On Feb 21, 2016 CBC News reported: Gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson says he has faced death threats in his native country
A Canadian-based lawyer is defying death threats and the prospect of being arrested in his native Jamaica by returning home this week to launch a constitutional challenge of the country’s anti-homosexuality law.
Maurice Tomlinson says he feared for his safety and left Jamaica four years ago after a local newspaper published a photo of the gay rights activist with his Canadian husband, resulting in threats against his life.
“The last time I had a death threat and I reported it to police, the officer said that he hates gays and they make him sick,” Tomlinson said, adding that he feels he’s viewed by Jamaica’s legal system as an unapprehended criminal.
Under Jamaican law, consensual sex between men is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, hard labour and the official designation of sex offender.
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Tomlinson says the law, which has been in place since 1864, was made worse in 2011, when additional measures were introduced requiring those convicted to carry a pass that identifies them as an offender or face an additional 12 months in prison and a $1 million fine.
Maurice Tomlinson, a Toronto-based lawyer and gay rights activist from Jamaica, is launching a constitutional challenge to the country’s anti-homosexuality laws. Gay men face up to 10 years in prison and the label of ‘sex offender’ under current Jamaican law. (Marnie Luke/CBC)
“When I come back to Jamaica, I feel like a prisoner,” he said.