Gay rights activist wants damages from TV stations
Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator
Gay rights activist and Attorney-at-Law Maurice Tomlinson is seeking damages against the island’s two major televisions stations, for their alleged refusal to air an advertisement promoting tolerance for homosexuals.
In making his submissions before the Constitutional Court today, Attorney-at-Law Lord Anthony Gifford said the action of the stations breaches the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
Lord Anthony argued that the homosexuals such as the claimant are free to receive and distribute information about themselves, so that there can be greater societal understanding of homosexuality.
He further submitted that the ad was seeking to highlight the deleterious impact of homophobia especially in relation to HIV.
The attorney argued that the Broadcasting Licensing Act places an obligation on television stations to operate in the public’s interest.
He said the defendants, as operators of the two major TV stations, have immense powers over the information, opinions and ideas that are disseminated to the public.
Lord Anthony also argued that free speech in the media is not only guaranteed for media practitioners, but also applies to members of the public who wish to have their views and opinion aired.
He pointed out that the tolerance advertisement does not violate any broadcasting laws or regulations and, as such, the television stations are unjustified in refusing to air it.
The matter is being heard by Justices Paulette Williams, Bryan Sykes and Leighton Pusey.
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