Published originally February 17, 2009, Ministry of Justice (formerly National Security & Justice) under the People’s National Party Administration. This was a statement by the then Attorney General signed below after hearing the submissions from the right winged christian legal group, Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship who among other things contested the sexual orientation sections of the proposed bill, this was where the gay marriage discussion was thrown in the mix and vigorously debated and opposed by the group.
see more on the Joint select committees’ reports from GJW:
The Joint Select Cmt 2006 on The Charter of Rights – Consenting Adults (Male)
No plans to Legalise Same Sex Unions (2006 Official Statement – Attorney General)
“There is no intention whatsoever on the part of the Government or the Joint Select Committee of Parliament that any door should be opened by provisions in the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or otherwise, to decriminalise homosexuality or to pave the way for same-sex marriages to be accepted as lawful in Jamaica.
In seeking to make submissions to the Joint Select Committee at this eleventh hour, the church representatives and the group of lawyers who complain about certain provisions of the Charter, concerning the protection of the right to privacy, need to be reminded of the history and purport of those provisions as they were developed.
First, those provisions are to the same effect as those that are contained in the recommendations of the Constitutional Commission of the early 1990s, under the chairmanship of Dr. Lloyd Barnett, in their draft Bill on the Charter
Second, the Joint Select Committee that sat for a long time to consider the Charter provisions, in the late 1990s, heard presentations from groups who take a completely opposite view to that taken by the church representatives and group of lawyers. Those entities, including J-FLAG, even though approaching the matter from the base of a different provision in the Bill, were of the view that the Charter should move away from the recommendations of the Constitutional Commission on this score and that there should be no discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.
The Joint Select Committee did not agree that such a recommendation should be made to Parliament since it saw such a measure as opening the door to the legalisation, or at least, the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Third, the Parliamentary Opposition tabled a Charter of Rights Bill in the name of its former leader, in which the provisions of which the church representatives and group of lawyers now complain are in the same terms as those recommended by the Constitutional Commission that was chaired by Dr. Barnett.
The church representatives and group of lawyers ought to be mindful of the following:
• It is not possible to have a policeman placed in every bedroom in Jamaica. So that, within the confines of a person’s home, this particular mischief cannot be prevented or punished except, of course, someone complains.
• Every provision in a law or a constitution is subject to interpretation by judges. Interpretation of laws, however narrowly or broadly drafted, is always coloured by the experience, culture and prevailing circumstances by which the interpreter is guided in coming to a conclusion. That is one of the reasons why the final interpreter of a country’s laws and constitutional provisions should be exposed to and be keenly aware of the socio-cultural imperatives that must guide his decision.”
Senator A.J. Nicholson, Q.C.
Attorney General & Minister of Justice