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Caribbean Court acknowledges homosexual rights but allows discriminatory laws to stand

For Immediate Release

Port of Spain, June 10th, 2016 — Today the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) recognized the rights of Caribbean LGBT to travel freely in the region. But at the same time, the court delivered a setback to human rights by refusing to strike down existing discriminatory immigration laws enacted to ban homosexuals from entry to Trinidad and Tobago and to Belize. The judgment came after years of work by AIDS-Free World and the applicant, Maurice Tomlinson.

The court found that under the “Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” Mr. Tomlinson does have the right to move freely among the Caribbean countries and dependencies that make up the CARICOM region. However, in a convoluted ruling, the CCJ found that the laws of both countries were either not applicable to Mr. Tomlinson or were not being actively applied. The court’s impressive legal gymnastics allowed the five-judge panel to rule that Belize and Trinidad and Tobago remained in compliance with their obligations under the Revised Treaty.

AIDS-Free World’s Legal Advisor for Global Advocacy, Seth Earn, described the ruling as insufficient: “We are pleased that freedom-of-movement rights of LGBT were recognized by the court, but the CCJ’s refusal to order that these laws be removed from the books will have a continued, pernicious impact on human rights over all”, said Mr. Earn.

The CCJ judgment comes at an important time for LGBT rights in the Caribbean, with a pending constitutional challenge, led by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, supported by AIDS-Free World, set to contest Jamaica’s anti-homosexual legislation. 

AIDS-Free World will provide further analysis of the decision shortly, but it is already evident that while the Caribbean Court of Justice has paid lip service to the rights of homosexuals, the judges stopped short of going where logic and jurisprudence should have taken them.


AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization that works for more urgent and effective global responses to HIV and AIDS. We expose and address injustice, abuse and inequality. www.aidsfreeworld.org | Follow us on Twitter: @AIDS_Free_World

Gill Mathurin, Director of Communications 
Tel: +1-646-924-1710, media@aidsfreeworld.org

Seth Earn, Legal Advisor, Global Advocacy 
Tel: +1-347-778-1546, searn@aidsfreeworld.org