July 18, 2013

Jamaican Gay Man Takes Belize, Trinidad to Court Over Discriminatory Immigration Laws

Jamaican Gay Man Takes Belize, Trinidad to Court Over
 Discriminatory Immigratiion Laws
Wed, July 17, 2013

Source: Channel 7 Daily News
Published : July 17, 2013

The country is waiting patiently for Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to rule 
on the UNIBAM challenge to Belize’s Sodomy Laws. Well, before that 
decision is handed down, another of Belize's sexually discriminatory laws
 is being challenged at the highest court in the land, the Caribbean Court 
of Justice.

Viewers may remember, Maurice Tomlinson, the Jamaican Gay Activist who
 turned down UNIBAM’s invitation to conduct sensitization sessions. 
He did that because he discovered that under Section 5 of Belize’s 
Immigration Act, he would be breaking the laws to enter the country 
to conduct this workshop.

This section states that prohibited immigrants include, quote
 "Any prostitute or homosexual who may have been living 
off or receiving proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behavior," end quote.
Tomlinson, who is married to a Canadian man, says that this law violates 
his right to freedom of movement within the Caribbean Community.

Trinidad and Tobago is the only other member of CARICOM which
 shares immigration laws similar to this one, and as a result, he has taken a
 challenge to the CCJ – in Trinidad - forcing both countries to respond.

Tomlinson has been to Belize twice, and in both visits, Belizean authorities 
did not enforce this law against him, so his home nation, Jamaica, has 
decided to stay out of this issue because his rights have not actually been 

His matter was called up today and via teleconference and Government 
Representatives from both countries presented themselves for case

Because Jamaica has refused to intervene as a state, Tomlinson’s attorney 
notified the CCJ judges’ panel that they were making an application for 
special leave to be heard as an individual.

That’s important because this is what’s known as an original jurisdiction matter,
 and only states can usually be granted such access to the court.

Nontheless, there are exceptions and the court has scheduled this application
 hearing for November 12. If Tomlinson can provide a strong case, the court 
will grant him leave to bring his challenge to both countries’ immigration laws.

Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke is the lead attorney representing the 
Government of Belize, along with other Crown Counsels from the office of the 
Solicitor General.

We’ll keep following this story as it develops.

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