Our Readers' Opinions
December 13, 2013
Gays have taken fight to CCJ

Fri Dec 13, 2013

Editor: Gays and lesbians in the United States and many other western countries are very open, so much so they demonstrate and let their voices be heard.{{more}}

A few states in the US bowed to their demands and now recognize same sex marriages. It was unbelievable when I saw on national television a couple years ago where billionaire mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg officiated at a same sex marriage of two of his staffers, John Feinbatt and Jonathan Mintz, at the steps of the Gracie Mansion on 25th July, 2011.

It is a known fact that Caribbean countries pattern the United States in many areas — be it in fashion, cell phones, Facebook, way of life and what have you. Now, a rather disturbing pattern has emerged; gays are now fighting for equality, so much so that they have taken their issues to the High Court and as high the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the highest court in the region.

In Belize, a homosexual organisation – United Belize Advisory Movement (UNIBAM) and its leader, Caleb Orozco, are challenging the country’s sodomy laws, and after a week of vigorous arguments from attorneys representing both UNIBAM, the Church and the Government, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin has reserved his ruling in this complicated case, in which 19 attorneys were involved. While Belize and the Caribbean are waiting on CJ Benjamin’s ruling, a well known Caribbean homosexual, Jamaica born Maurice Tomlinson, has moved to the CCJ, challenging the laws of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, which prohibit gays from entering their countries.

Tomilinson, who is married to a Canadian man, is a known fighter for gay rights not only in the region, but also in Canada. He has no legal representative and he indicated that he will personally fight for his right to travel like any other Caribbean nationals, in keeping with the freedom of movement under the Treaty of Chaguaramas. In fact, in his argument before the CCJ, he has cited the recent decision given by the CCJ in favour of his fellow Jamaican Shanique Myrie who was awarded substantial damages for being denied entry and for being humiliated by the Barbadian immigration authorities.

Caribbean countries, especially the Dutch, French and United States islands are friendly towards gay and lesbians, but it is only on the tiny island of Saba that gay marriages are permitted, and reports state that tourism has increased significantly on that island with a population of 2000.

Oscar Ramjeet