Wed | Oct 28, 2020

T&T buggery ruling will boost HIV healthcare - Harvey

Published:Tuesday | April 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dr Kevin Harvey

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) says the Trinidad and Tobago High Court ruling last Thursday, which declared the buggery law unconstitutional, will bolster healthcare delivery.

"HIV/AIDS administrators across the Caribbean have for years been pointing out that the buggery law impedes the success of initiatives to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission and offer adequate treatment and care," said Dr Kevin Harvey, Caribbean regional director for AHF and former permanent secretary at Jamaica's Ministry of Health.

He added, "This is a welcome development for the Caribbean and I hope other countries will follow."

AHF is a leading AIDS organisation providing medical care and other services to close to 900,000 individuals in 39 countries.

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) also lauded the ruling. "It has always been the considered view of CVC that any such arrangement in law infringes on the basic principles of human rights and justice. The ruling signifies an increasing recognition by our courts in the Caribbean of the need to safeguard human dignity and the rights of everyone," CVC asserted.

Jason Jones, a gay-rights activist, filed the constitutional motion, with Jones contending that Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional because it violated his right to privacy, liberty and freedom of expression. The ruling is being appealed by the Government. The buggery law in Belize was struck down in 2016.

Gay advocate Maurice Tomlinson has mounted a challenge in Jamaica's Supreme Court seeking an amendment to the Offences Against the Person Act to remove the provision against buggery.

At a preliminary hearing, the public defender was blocked from joining the case as an interested party by Justice Kissock Laing. He ruled that "the public defender, by this application, is seeking to voluntarily insert herself directly into the centre of a nationally divisive issue, which, for the Office of the Public Defender, is potentially toxic."

The public defender has appealed the decision.