Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Public Defender wants to join buggery law challenge suit

Published:Tuesday | March 1, 2016 | 3:49 AM
Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry.

The Public Defender, Arlene Harrison Henry, has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking to be joined as an interested party in the suit brought by gay rights activist and attorney-at-law Maurice Tomlinson who is challenging Jamaica’s buggery law.

Several organisations, churches and religious groups, have filed applications seeking to become interested parties in the suit.

The applications are set to be heard on April 26.

The Public Defender claims that her office was created for the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of citizens.

The Public Defender is of the view that the resolution of the issues raised in the claim and the decision on whether to grant the relief being sought will affect a class of citizens in Jamaica.

The Public Defender states that she was shown a copy of the claim filed by Tomlinson which alleges breaches of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

She says the main grievance outlined by the claim is that the claimant, who is a homosexual man, is adversely affected by various laws which criminalise sexual activity between consenting adult males.

Tomlinson filed a constitutional motion against the Attorney General last year after gay rights activist, Javed Jaghai, withdrew his challenge against the buggery law because of threats.

Tomlinson is seeking to have the anti-sodomy law nullified in relation to all cases of adult consensual sex which attracts convictions and prison terms.

He also claims that criminalising homosexuality amounts to a direct and blatant denial of equality before the law for him and other gay men. 

Tomlinson claims that the law encourages violence against homosexuals.