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 legalization, or at least, the decriminalization 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.
After all nobody asked for marriage equality when we cannot get passed basic tolerance and understanding.
Peace & tolerance