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Public Defender appeals Supreme Court decision to bar her from joining buggery lawsuit

Published:Tuesday | July 19, 2016 | 7:38 PM
In her application to join the case as an interested party, the Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry argued that her office was created for the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of citizens.

The Public Defender has filed an appeal challenging the decision of the Supreme Court to bar her from joining as an interested party in the law suit brought by gay rights activist and attorney-at-law, Maurice Tomlinson.

Tomlinson now has a matter in court challenging Jamaica’s buggery law.

He had filed a constitutional motion against the Attorney General seeking to have the anti-sodomy law nullified in all cases of adult consensual sex.

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

In her application to join the case as an interested party, the Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry argued that her office was created for the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of citizens.

However, Justice Kissock Laing turned down the application stating that the Public Defender was seeking to insert herself into the centre of a nationally divisive issue and could lose the confidence of many Jamaicans if allowed to join the case.

However, in her appeal, the Public Defender is contending that the judge erred in making his decision.

Among the grounds of appeal, the public defender is arguing that the judge failed to sufficiently apply the interest test to her office as was applied to the five other groups who sought to join the case.

Religious groups have joined the lawsuit as interested parties and are asking the court to reject Tomlinson’s constitutional motion.

The public defender is also contending that the judge’s decision has the effect of restricting the statutory remit of her office to protect and enforce the rights of citizens.