Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA'S TWO main television stations, CVMTV and Television Jamaica (TVJ) are to answer to claims of violating the constitutional rights of gay activist Maurice Tomlinson in the Supreme Court on December 12.
Both stations were served last Friday.
CVMTV's vice-president of sales and marketing, Ronnie Sutherland, confirmed last Saturday that both stations have been served. He however noted, "We at CVMTV have decided not to offer a comment on the matter at this time." The Gleaner was also unable to get a comment from TVJ.
Tomlinson, an attorney-at-law, is seeking redress on a number of orders, including one that states that the two television stations refused to air a paid advertisement promoting tolerance for homosexuals in Jamaica. Tomlinson was one of the actors in the advertisement.
freedom of speech breached
He said the refusal to air the ad, which was not in violation of any of Jamaica's broadcasting acts and regulations, amounted to a breach of the claimant's constitutional right to freedom of speech as guaranteed by sections 13(3)(c) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act, 2011.
In the court papers, which The Gleaner obtained, the claimant charged that the refusal amounted to a breach of his constitutional right to distribute or disseminate information, opinion and ideas through any media, as guaranteed by sections 13(3) (d) of the charter.
According to the document, it is in the public interest that "men who have sex with men and homosexuals such as the claimant are free to receive and distribute information about themselves so that there can be greater societal understanding of the causes and appropriate responses to homosexuality, as well as to combat the deleterious impact of homophobia, especially on the national HIV response".
The claimant is seeking damages and the airing of the advertisement in exchange for the standard fee paid to both television stations.
Tomlinson is being represented by attorney Anika Gray.