A Jamaican activist reports on today’s Jamaican Supreme Court ruling against TV stations’ bid to require LGBT rights activists to pay court costs incurred in their failed attempt to force the stations to run a public-service ad promoting tolerance.
Today, the Jamaican Supreme Court handed down its decision in the cost application by the TV stations in the matter of Tomlinson v TVJ et. al.
The court ruled unanimously that no costs would be awarded against Maurice Tomlinson (and by extension, AIDS-Free World) for bringing this constitutional challenge against the stations for refusing to air the tolerance ad promoting respect for the human rights of gay Jamaicans:
This is an important victory, as an adverse cost order requiring Tomlinson to pay the TV stations for their legal fees would have had a chilling effect on future constitutional claims.
Jamaica’s new Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms obliges everyone, including private persons, to respect the rights of others and allows for constitutional claims in the event of a breach. However, there was no clear guidance on how the legal costs in such claims would be handled if the claimant lost. This court decision settles that.
The discussion and publicity around this case has certainly raised the profile on LGBT rights in Jamaica. In fact, this was the first claim brought under the new Charter and established some very important precedents, such as how competing rights of private citizens should be balanced.
The case was also very important for a quote by the President of the panel who said that although the Charter makes no specific mention of the rights of LGBT, it is clear from the language of the Charter that all citizens are entitled to equal rights. This gives us an opening to legally challenge agencies that refuse to uphold human rights for LGBT Jamaicans.
For more information, see:
- The Struggle for Gay Rights Vs. Jamaican TV: The Court Case Begins (AIDS-Free World)
- Jamaica Constitutional Challenge: The Struggle for Gay Rights vs. The TV Networks (AIDS-Free World)
- Jamaica: ‘Church, TV can dictate how gays are viewed’ (76crimes.com)
- Jamaican TV: Why we reject LGBT tolerance ad (76crimes.com)
- Jamaican TV stations due in court for nixing LGBT ad (76crimes.com)
- Jamaican lawsuit seeks OK for gay respect TV ad (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Legal challenge to anti-gay law under way (76crimes.com)