Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Letter of the Day | If Lambert Brown were a better reader

Published:Wednesday | July 3, 2019 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In a publication of The Gleaner of June 22, 2019, there was a report titled ‘Trust bill passed after controversial clause removed’. The headline was later changed online to ‘Trust bill passed after controversial clause amended’, seeking to mitigate the damage from the misleading headline.

I further point out that if The Gleaner’s writer listened carefully to the comments of the leader of government business, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, he would have realised that Senator Lambert Brown’s comments made two Fridays ago were faulty and could have resulted from him either not reading the bill in its entirety or him not having an appreciation of rules governing interpretation of statute. The provision in the bill raised by Senator Brown touched on the definition of ‘personal relationship’ in Clause Two, which reads as follows:

“(a) Every form of relationship by blood, adoption, marriage or cohabitation, regardless of whether the law of any jurisdiction recognises the validity, legitimacy or existence of the relationship.”

Senator Brown took the word ‘cohabitation’ and applied his own meaning to it, saying it implied “same-sex marriage”, and that this was an attempt by the Government to introduce same-sex marriage in Jamaica. First, that’s furtherest from the truth. This administration intends no such thing, as it would run contrary to the Constitution of Jamaica, which only recognises marriage as “a union between one man and one woman”.

Second, it is clear from Senator Brown’s comments that he had not read or appreciated the other clauses of the bill, and in particular, clauses 5(2)(a) and 5 (2)(d)(iii).

Clause 5(2)(a) reads as follows:

“A trust is invalid and unenforceable in Jamaica to the extent that – (a) it purports to do anything contrary to the laws of Jamaica.”

Clause 5(2)(d)(iii) reads as follows:

“The court declares that –

(iii) it is immoral or contrary to public policy.”

These clauses stipulate the context in which trusts would be valid in Jamaica. It makes one, therefore, ask, by what route did Senator Brown take in his mind to raise the issue of “same-sex marriage being facilitated by this bill”?

I would say to Senator Brown, a little reading would go a far way. A little more reading with understanding would have avoided his inflammatory amd baseless presentation which caused many in the public domain to have concerns unnecessarily.

In order to allay those concerns, an amendment was done to the definition clause of ‘personal relationship’ to remove all doubt and to make the reading of the bill easier. The amended definition now reads as follows:

“Every form of relationship by blood, adoption, marriage or cohabitation, to the extent that such relationship is recognised by the laws of Jamaica, regardless of whether the law of any jurisdiction recognises the validity, legitimacy or existence of the relationship.”

The position of this administration is to uphold the Constitution of Jamaica.

CHARLES SINCLAIR

Government Senator