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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are all waiting on the decision on the Caribbean Court of Justice after the judges heard an application by Maurice Tomlinson, the attorney and Gay Rights activist who is suing the first 2 countries in an attempt to get the court to change their immigration laws.

As we've been telling you, Belize's Immigration Act classes prohibited immigrants attempting to come into the country as quote, "any prostitute or homosexual who may have been living off or receiving proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behaviour."

Tomlinson, who is open about his homosexuality and his marriage to a Canadian man, says that this law and the Trinidad's immigration law violates his rights to free movement among the CARICOM countries.

As we told you, because both Belize and Trinidad have not denied him access, Jamaica has abstained from the proceedings, and they've refused to grant him access to the CCJ via the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

As a result, he had to make a special leave application to be heard as an individual, and today that application went to completion. His attorney, Queens Council Anthony Gifford, presented on his behalf that the immigration laws of both countries places a blanket ban on homosexuals from entering. So, when Tomlinson was invited to these countries, he had no lawful alternative but to refuse because he didn't want to break the law, and subject himself to a possible refusal by immigration authorities.

In response, Deputy Solicitor General Nigel Hawke submitted that Tomlinson has the wrong interpretation of the Belize law, and that, by his own admission, he has been here twice without being rejected by immigration authorities. He added that there is no evidence that his rights have been violated, or will ever be violated.

After the completion of the application, the media spoke to Hawke, and he explained what has been placed before the judges:

Nigel Hawke, Deputy Solicitor General of Belize
"The court heard arguments from the applicant, heard arguments from Belize and Trinidad. Remember this is an application for special leave. We made our arguments basically saying that we have a certain interpretation of our Immigration Act, Trinidad made their application and the court has reserve its ruling on the issue of application for special leave."

"Our position is that the law is interpreted a certain way. It's in relations to persons who profit or earn from either prostitution or homosexuality. That is our position. We are saying firstly there is no actual prejudice and that is clear and nobody is disputing that. The question is whether there is a potential prejudice because he says the law there is an impediment of free movement in particular to Belize. We are saying, based on our interpretation it's not. Even is that particular provision remains there our humble submission is that it remains a provision that only applies to a particular situation."

"Yes, you concede the fact that there are some laws in our books that are sort of outdated but we maintain even with this particular aspect of our law it has been repeated in our free movement of skills national act and I think parliament must have meant something why they put it there. This is a law to deal with persons who come into Belize for employment purposes that also give some sort of clarity as to what meaning the legislation attaches to that particular provision in our immigration act."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir, the attorney for the other side said that this particular case has no reference to that skilled labour, so it shouldn't be considered."

Nigel Hawke, Deputy Solicitor General of Belize
"That's a submission; he has a right to make his submission. That is his submission and we respect that but we've made our submission. So, now we await the ruling of the court as to whether they will grant special leave. The court can grant special leave once they've establish that he has put forward an arguable case."

The CCJ has reserved judgment, and it is important to note that this is just a preliminary hearing to test whether or not Tomlinson has a case to bring before the court to consider.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Tomlinson Explains Why He's Challenging Belize's Immig Law

Last night, 7News showed you an excerpt of the interview which Jamaican Gay Rights Activist Maurice Tomlinson granted to our colleague, Kalilah Enriquez of Ceen News. He addressed the issue of the accusation that his ex-wife Deputy Sol Gen was somehow trying to craft laws in Belize in favour of the local pro-gay movement in Belize.

In that interview, Tomlinson also spoke about why he felt the need to challenge Belize's Immigration Act. Even though he has been to the country twice before finding out that the law exists, he says that it is a matter of principle that it must be repealed. According to Tomlinson, the law marginalizes homosexuals, classing them with prostitutes and other commercial sex workers, and puts a blanket ban on them from the country:

For the record, that wording which he presented to our Colleague is his interpretation, and he didn't quote the Immigration law. The exact wording of the section he is challenging say that prohibited immigrants include, quote, "Any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behaviour." That wording is important because Belize's Deputy Solicitor General submitted to the court that the law seeks to ban persons acting as commercial sex workers. It remains to be seen if what interpretation is the one that the Caribbean Court of Justice makes, and it will determine whether or not they allow his case to be heard.

Channel 7

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