Judge gives nod to churches to join state in buggery matter
Meisha Cruickshank
November 22, 2019
Judge gives nod to churches to join state in buggery matter

Justice Esco Henry has ruled that the 10 churches seeking to join the state in defending the challenge to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ buggery and gross indecency laws, will be able to join the proceedings.

The ruling was made on Wednesday, November 20, at the High Court.

“We’re very pleased. It was always our view that our application was sound and that our arguments that supported our application would have been accepted by the judge and so we are really pleased about it,” Meisha Cruickshank, one of the lawyers representing the 10 churches said.

The claimants in the matter, Sean MacLeish and Javin Vinc Johnson are openly gay Vincentians, living in the United States and the United Kingdom respectively, who claim that their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution are being violated by the anti-buggery laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The churches, which are a part of a larger body known as the Christian Coalition, submitted their application based on Civil Procedure Rules which guides the court’s actions.

And part 56.13 of these rules state that any person who has sufficient interest in an administrative matter can make an application to the court to be added as a party in the proceedings and must make submissions by way of a written brief.

Cruickshank told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday another part of that rule, 56.13 (2) adds that the interested person or body with sufficient interest in the matter may make submissions by way of a written brief unless the judge orders otherwise.

“So this section allows the judge some amount of discretion so the judge can decide if the interested party will only be allowed to make submissions by way of written brief or if the judge will allow the interested party to do more, so it is in the discretion of the judge to determine what submissions the interested parties will be allowed to make, if any submissions at all,” she said.

The lawyer said that the Henry has allowed for the churches to make both written and oral submissions. They will also be allowed to respond to claimants’ affidavits by way of two affidavits of their own.

“So that basically gives us space as much as any other party is able to do,” Cruickshank said. “We know of course, that the hard work starts now.”