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Gay activist challenges T&T, Belize immigration laws (Is Jamaica next) Options
Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2013 7:06:44 AM

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Gay activist challenges T&T, Belize immigration laws

Published: Thursday | November 14, 2013 0 Comments

Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

ATTORNEY-AT-LAW MAURICE Tomlinson, a gay-rights activist, is challenging the immigration laws of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, which he contends include homosexuals as a class of persons prohibited from entering those countries.

Tomlinson is seeking special leave from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to challenge the matter.The CCJ heard Tomlinson's application on Tuesday by video-link from the Supreme Court and reserved its decision.

Tomlinson states that he is a homosexual, and the very existence of those laws prevents him for entering those countries since he could not enter without breaking the law.

He contends he had to refuse invitations to visit those countries in connection with his work as legal adviser for marginalised groups for the international non-governmental organisation AIDS-Free World.

Tomlinson, who is being represented by Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, and attorney-at-law Anika Gray, had sought the assistance of the Jamaican Government in his legal battle, but his request was denied.

He states in court documents that the attorney general of Jamaica suggested that the law had not been applied in practice, and was not applied on his previous visits to Trinidad and Tobago.

But in response, Tomlinson contends that it was no defence for a law-breaker to say that the law was not applied to him or to others before. He states that, on the contrary, an immigration officer who knew that an application for entry was in a prohibited class would be committing an offence under the law if he admitted him entry to the country.

According to Tomlinson, his right of freedom of movement has been violated. It is his contention that it is an affront to his dignity to be obliged to limit his movement within the Caribbean Community because of his sexual orientation. He said it would be offensive to him to be subjected to questioning by state officials about the details of his sexual orientation and private life simply for purposes of determining whether he should be permitted to enter a country to which he has the right to enter under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

He is seeking leave to go to the CCJ for a declaration that the provisions to the immigration laws of both countries prevent his lawful entry, and the laws are in violation of his right of freedom of movement under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Tomlinson is seeking orders that the defendant countries amendtheir Immigration Act so as to remove homosexuals from any class of prohibited immigrants.

He is seeking damages for the violation of his right to freedom of movement.

Attorney-at-law Seenath Jairam who is representing the government of Trinidad and Tobago, and attorney-at-law Nigel Hawke who is representing the government of Belize, have opposed the application. The lawyers argued that Tomlinson had travelled to both countries before and did not present any evidence that he suffered harassment during those visits.

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