Caribbean Court of Justice Allows Gay Jamaican to Challenge Immigration Laws

Our Head of Chambers, Lord Gifford QC, is representing a gay Jamaican, Maurice Tomlinson, in a challenge before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to the immigration laws of Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, which contain express prohibitions on the entry of homosexuals into those countries.  The case was brought under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) treaty which provides for freedom of movement for CARICOM nationals.  Mr. Tomlinson is seeking declarations and orders, including an order that the laws be amended.

Under the original jurisdiction of the CCJ a national of a member state is entitled to seek special leave to make a claim if his country refuses to make it on his behalf.  The Jamaican government refused to espouse Mr. Tomlinson’s claim.  On 8th May 2014 the CCJ granted special leave, saying that it was arguable that the mere existence of laws such as these could constitute a violation of a person’s rights under the treaty.  The governments of the two countries had argued that the laws were not enforced in practice.  The case will now proceed to a full hearing.

The judgment is available on the CCJ website under citation [2014] CCJ 2(OJ): a summary can be read here.