Caribbean Court Hears Gay Freedom of Movement Claim

Head of Chambers, Lord Gifford QC, appeared as lead counsel before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in an application filed by Maurice Tomlinson against the Governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize.  Mr Tomlinson is a prominent Jamaican gay activist and attorney, working as Legal Advisor to AIDS-Free World in the Caribbean region.  The Immigration Acts of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize both include "homosexuals" as a class of prohibited immigrant: Mr Tomlinson has been invited to attend seminars and conferences in both countries but is unable to accept because of these laws.

The Treaty binding the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) commits each member state to the goal of free movement within the Community, with a specific right accorded to university graduates.  The CCJ has jurisdiction to determine disputes under the Treaty; an individual may apply to the CCJ if his or her government will not take up the case.  Mr Tomlinson has therefore applied to the CCJ for redress for the violation of his right to freedom of movement, as the Government of Jamaica has refused to act on his behalf.

At a recent preliminary hearing, held through a video link, the Court gave directions for a full hearing of the application for special leave to commence proceedings as an individual, to take place in November 2013.  It is hoped that the action can lead to the repeal of these discriminatory laws.