Belize to Face Lawsuit for its Immigration Laws on Homosexuality

vlcsnap-2014-05-08-18h02m20s101Jamaican homosexual activist Maurice Tomlinson is now one step closer to potentially overturning local laws he feels are discriminating against his right to free movement as a homosexual.

This morning the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) granted Tomlinson special leave to file an application under the court’s original jurisdiction, seeking to have the court declare that the immigration laws of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago are arguably prejudicial to him.

Presenting the judgment of the court, CCJ President Sir Dennis Byron said that Tomlinson had met the standard of presenting an arguable case.

According to the court, the very existence of the laws amounts to prejudice, the states’ arguments that they do not treat homosexuals that way in practice notwithstanding.

Following the ruling, Acting Solicitor General of Belize Nigel Hawke outlined the Government’s preparations for presenting its full case, emphasizing that this is just the beginning.

vlcsnap-2014-05-08-18h58m53s0Nigel Hawke- Acting Solicitor General

“We were all in to the leave stage when the court fundamentally rolled this file out, leave is granted.  This is just the first stage; we had objected to leave.  So, special leave has been granted.  So, now we move to the substantive issues that will have to be argued.  They have been given seven days to file their originating application.

Reporter:  “Sir, the president did mention that just the mere existence of the  these statues in the law is punitive.  What is your reaction to that?”

Nigel Hawke :  “At this stage, that is mentioned in context of an application for special leave and all the he  established is an arguable case.  At this point, the court agreed that there is an arguable case and so, we move to the next stage”.

Hawke said he does not expect to call immigration officials as witnesses to testify as to what practices Belize has with regard to homosexuals.

It is interesting to note that Tomlinson, who split from a female partner and has remarried to a Canadian pastor, won this stage of the case without support from his native Jamaica, which considered that he had previously traveled to both Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, unaware of the law he claims is discriminatory, and could point to no obvious mistreatment or impediment.  The applications will now be consolidated into one claim and filed within the next 7 days per the court’s rules.

Tomlinson was represented by Queen’s Counsel Anthony Gifford and Anika Gray.  Belize was defended by Hawke and colleagues Illiana Swift and Mark Ramsey, while Trinidad’s defense team was led by Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam.

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