Challenge to Jamaica’s Buggery Law Dismissed by the Constitutional Court

Friday, October 27, 2023, 4:37 PM

A challenge made to Jamaica’s buggery law by attorney and gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson was dismissed on Friday by the country’s Constitutional Court.



Tomlinson’s challenge to the buggery law sought to have it nullified in regard to cases of consensual sex between adults. The law as it stands may attract prison time.

Tomlinson, who is homosexual, argued that criminalising homosexuality is a rejection of equality for gay men. Today’s ruling was handed down by a panel of three judges who were left to determine if the court has the authority to investigate if sections 76, 77, and 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA), which prohibits buggery, are in accordance with the constitution.

Whether the sections in question can be checked or not was to be based on the savings law clause in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Constitutional Amendment) Act. It was unanimously ruled by the panel of judges that the savings laws prevented any inquiry into the three sections of the OAPA.

Justice David Batts, who delivered today’s ruling, explained that amendments that were made in accordance with the constitution in 2011 make it evident that it was Parliament’s intent to protect the laws related to sexual offences from review for unconstitutionality.


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