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Appeal Court urged to overturn ruling in case brought by gay rights activist against TV stations

Published:Wednesday | February 3, 2016 | 2:53 PM

The Appeal Court is being urged to overturn a ruling by a lower court that found that two television stations did not breach the Constitution in deciding against airing a video promoting tolerance for gays. 

Lord Anthony Gifford made the appeal in completing his submissions in the Appeal Court on behalf of his client, Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican gay rights activist. 

Gifford asked the court to find that the television stations' refusal to air a paid advertisement promoting tolerance for homosexuals in Jamaica was not in violation of any of Jamaica's Broadcasting Acts and Regulations.

He argued that the refusal by TVJ and CVM amounted to a breach of Tomlinson's constitutional right to freedom of speech under the Charter of Fundamental rights and Freedoms.

He submitted further that the refusal amounted to a breach of Tomlinson's constitutional rights to distribute, disseminate information, opinion and ideas through the media as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Gifford agreed that both the television stations and Tomlinson had rights.

However, he said the judges of the Supreme Court who dismissed Tomlinson's claim in 2013 should have done a balancing act under the Charter to determine what was the infringement of one party over the other and what was the cost to both parties.

He argued that Tomlinson wanted to exercise his freedom of expression on human rights issues and the media refused.

Gifford also argued that under the Constitution people have the right to use other people's properties such as the media.

The appeal is being heard by Justice Hilary Phillips, Justice Marva McDonald Bishop and Justice Frank Williams.