The Jamaican Supreme Court on Friday ruled against a gay man who challenged the country’s colonial-era sodomy law.
Maurice Tomlinson, an activist from Montego Bay who now lives in Canada with his husband, in the lawsuit he filed in November 2015 notes the statute violates the right to privacy and other provisions of the Jamaican constitution. He also argues the sodomy law violates “the right to protection from inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.”
The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, Hear the Children’s Cry and a group to which the ruling refers as “The Churches” defended the law. Tomlinson on Friday told the Washington Blade that all four of these entities “have American affiliates.”
“Thankful for the privilege of living in a country where my love isn’t illegal,” wrote Tomlinson on his Facebook page.
Jamaica is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.
Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Singapore last year decriminalized homosexuality.
The Mauritius Supreme Court earlier this month issued a ruling that struck down the country’s colonial-era sodomy law. Courts in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago in recent years have also struck down criminalization statutes in their respective countries.
The Caribbean Court of Justice in 2018 struck down a Guyana law that criminalized cross-dressing.
Tomlinson told the Blade that he can appeal the ruling to the Jamaican Court of Appeal and then to the Privy Council in London.
Jamaica gained independence from the U.K. in 1962, and a referendum on whether the country should remove the British monarch as head of state is expected to take place next year. The Privy Council is an appellate court for British territories, but it can hear appeals of Jamaican Court of Appeal rulings.