Jomo Thomas, left, and Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell, lawyers for the claimants, on their way to court on Wednesday. (iWN photo)

A lawyer for the two men challenging the constitutionality of the anti-buggery and gross indecency laws in St. Vincent and the Grenadines says his client will win once the case is decided on the law.

Jomo Thomas further told iWitness News that the churches, under the umbrella body of the Christian Coalition, might be setting themselves up for a public relations problem, by saying they hope to bring out 20,000 persons to a march in Kingstown on Thursday (today).

Gay Vincentians Sean MacLeish and Javin Johnson, who live in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, have filed a constitutional challenge to the anti-buggery and gross indecency laws in SVG.

“They are saying, and we agree, as counsel, that Sections 146 and 148 of the Criminal Code in St. Vincent is violative of their constitutional rights to expression, to dignity, to a number of constitutional provisions we believe are violated,” Thomas told iWitness News on Wednesday, after a pre-trial hearing in the matter.

Under the Criminal Code, any person who commits buggery with any other person, commits buggery with an animal, or permits any person to commit buggery with him or her is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

The Criminal Code also says that any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years.

The Attorney General, as the chief legal officer of the state, is the respondent to the claim, but 10 churches have argued to the court that they should also be a party to the claim.

The churches are: Seventh-day Adventist Church; Evangelical Church of the West Indies; New Testament Church of God; Spiritual Baptist Church; Church of God St. Vincent; New Life Ministries; Light of Truth Church of God; Kingstown Baptist Church; Living Water Ministries International, and Hope Evangelism Outreach Ministries.

The court will rule on this on Nov. 20, having heard legal arguments on Wednesday.

The churches, represented by counsel Meisha Cruickshank, are arguing that the state should keep the anti-buggery and gross indecency laws because of issues of public health and public morality.

The claimants, gay Vincentians Sean MacLeish, left, and Javin Johnson.

Thomas, however, said the case is not about morality.

“This is not about morality and the claims that homosexuals cause the proliferation of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases cannot be supported by science… The case should be decided on the law, it should not be decided on morality,” he told iWitness News.

Thomas said a number of important cases on the same or similar issues, including in Belize, Trinidad and Guyana were decided on the law.

“And we believe that once the judges approach this case from a legal standpoint and look at the plethora of decisions that have come down across the world, whether we are talking about the United States, Fiji, Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, wherever we go, the court has given little regard to the issue of morality for the simple reason that these are secular states, it is not a theocracy, and, therefore, people are not bound by issues of morality and the notion that the Constitution was made recognising the supremacy of God.”

Thomas said that in the decision of the Belizean Supreme Court, the judge made the point that the issue of the supremacy of God is only relevant to the extent that the state couldn’t be declared an atheistic state because the preamble said it is based on the primacy and the belief in God.

“So, on legal issues, we think that we are in good standing. We don’t believe that the issue of morality should play a big role. What we were concerned about going in, in terms of judicial efficiency and expediting the constitutional issues, is that we don’t have the case cluttered by the churches coming in and doing the kind of emotive things that they are doing now, as you see, for example, they are projecting to have this march tomorrow and I heard that they are hoping to get like about 20,000 people to come.

“I don’t know why they would want to say that because if they fall way short of that they have public relations problems. But that’s where it is.”

The march and rally are slated to take place in Kingstown today from 11a.m. to 1:30 p.m., under the theme “Calling Our Nation to Righteousness”.

The Christian Coalition says it will address five areas of national concern, namely, the LBGTQ challenge to the buggery laws of SVG, crime, the family — rape/domestic abuse, unemployment and mental health.

The march will start simultaneously at Girls’ High School Bus Stop and Little Tokyo and culminate at Heritage Square.

There will be Prayer Stops along the way at Peace Memorial Hall, Financial Complex/Police Barracks, Rose Place, Grand Bazaar/Paul’s Avenue Junction and the Court House.

One promo said that organisers are looking for over 20,000 people to be involved in the march.

But Thomas told iWitness News he thinks that the march by the church “really is an assault on the rights of another section of the society.

“The churches are Christian churches and the churches come from the new testament position of Jesus as love, Jesus for redemption and salvation, and for the church to call one section out of the society to demonstrate because another section of society is asking for the protection of its constitutional rights, akin – well, not akin to, but I thought Jesus Christ dealt with that fundamentally when he said he that is without sin cast the first stone,” Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Thomas confirmed to iWitness News that his chambers has been working on the case without payment.

“We haven’t received any money on this case. I hear people say that one of the reasons that I am resigning is that I really need the money and I have to do this. This is not a case that we have earned any money on. We have received no money on it as the press release said. We are indeed working pro bono,” he said.

Thomas announced last month that he will resign in early 2020 as Speaker of the House of Assembly, a post he has held since 2015. He also announced his immediate resignation as a member of the ruling Unity Labour Party and as its caretaker for the South Leeward constituency.

18 replies on “Claimant will win once buggery case decided on law—lawyer”

  1. “We don’t believe that the issue of morality should play a big role” says Jomo Thomas. Jomo I guess this is right up your alley as you seem not to be big on morality. Enjoy your moment in the sun and lets hope you are on the right side of history, but remember, sun burn ain’t sweet.

  2. It is always interesting to see when reprobates quote from Bible Text or its sayings in order to justify their gross behaviours but yet, however, not understanding one bit the doctrines of the Bible. Here I have to take issue with JOMO as with the following as it is reported;

    “The churches are Christian churches and the churches come from the new testament position of Jesus as love, Jesus for redemption and salvation, and for the church to call one section out of the society to demonstrate because another section of society is asking for the protection of its constitutional rights, akin – well, not akin to, but I thought Jesus Christ dealt with that fundamentally when he said he that is without sin cast the first stone,” Yes Jomo, firstly, all are with sin but are called to repentance!

    Then the second error to notice on the part of Jomo is this, he is attempting to justify his and his client’s actions by an attempt to magnifying the love of God (Jesus) over and above God’s righteousness and that will never do, as God loves his own Righteousness much, much more than he loves us. Hence the reason for the Cross of Christ. See: Habakkuk 1:13 New King James Version (NKJV)

    We learn there of him, God, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness……”. And from the apostle we learn that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,….” Of which homosexuality is specifically named: See;

    “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1,

    As expressed before, it was rather quite clever of the parties in choosing these two prominent lawyers while bringing their case before our Court system, as both the NDP and the ULP, could thus “wash their hands” and do the Pilate trick on us.

    And as JOMO would have us understand “but I thought Jesus Christ dealt with that fundamentally when he said he that is without sin cast the first stone..” we are Jomo reminded here “And such were some of you..” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV). They had abandoned their sins! We are called to abandon our sins Jomo. And as to your client he is reminded;

    “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God”.

    It remains that our society, like other nations, stands under God’s judgement according to our own actions!

    1. Osborne barnwell says:

      the evolution and the enlightening of the human spirit command us as Christians to leave judgments which divide us at the alter of confession. surely, it cannot be argued that those who are attracted to each other of the same sex have surrendered their humanity. this is not really about the licence to have sex with someone of the same sex but rather the idea that each of us should be treated equally. the law legitimizes unequal treatment of our brothers and sisters by focusing on sex. yet…Christians who claim to be Christians are not free of sexual sin…sin is sin. we should therefore animate the conversation about all of us in developing a better and loving relationship with God and with each other…

      Osborne g barnwell is a lawyer and Christian living in canada

    2. Adding to all that you’ve said, Jomo must eat the whole bread, not just the tip of one end. He must READ THE ENTIRE VERSE – John 8:11. The end say: “GO AND SIN NO MORE”.

      In saying, “GO AND SIN NO MORE,” Jesus was not speaking of sinless perfection. He was warning against a return to sinful lifestyle choices. His words both extended mercy and demanded holiness. Jesus was always the perfect balance of “grace and truth” (John 1:14).

      To Jomo and others who are together in such mindset, must remember, or be aware that HELL is real, and God will never go back on His Word. God’s Word is truth, His yes is “YES” and His no is “NO.”

  3. Vincy in New York says:

    This case has already passed the litmus test.

    SVG, vincentians at home ought to brace themselves for the inevitable – the law will be revoked.

    I will not kneel during the singing of SVG or USA national anthem. However, I will not support any legislation that prevents others from doing so. Likewise, I am not for homosexuality but will not support any law that prevents 2 consenting adults from doing what they want in private.

    Current laws are draconian and trample on their privacy and rights.

    When 14 year olds are turning up at clinics pregnant, the churches remain silent. Rapes and molestation of women and kids across svg, the churches are tongue in cheek. They have lost influence long time ago. When they were supposed to throw a tantrum they provided luke warm support. Now it’s their bottom line at stake here.

    Am very disappointed in some politicians and other socall legal experts in svg. Disappointed is a mild word. Politicians fail to show leadership here. Legal experts are also mum. Trinidad and Tobago PM was strategic in handling the issue there. What do u have to say PM?

    Politically, it’s a double edge sword but political shrewdness is needed here. If not addressed, the NDP will use this. I suspect where many politicians stand on this issue but they are afraid of potential fallouts and thus lack leadership.

    It’s a done deal.

    1. Very good insight Vincy in New York. No matter what happens there will be people unhappy with the ruling. In SVG it is politically correct for the politicians to keep silent.

  4. Rawlston Pompey says:

    CONSTITUTIONALITY v LEGALITY – MORALITY v IMMORALITY

    Even as they may have anticipated that man may engage in ‘…abnormal sexual behavior,’ framers of the Constitution never envisaged or intended that ‘…homosexuality’ would be recognized by the nation and people or as a moral national practice.

    Jomo Thomas and his colleague ‘Zita’ Barnwell appear very careful to pin their hope on a favorable ruling on the question of ‘…law.’

    They have also very carefully avoided the issues of ‘…Morality and Immorality.’ These are clearly not matters of ‘…individual rights or justice.’

    It shall be known by all practicing attorneys, that any law that is inconsistent with the Constitution, to the extent of such inconsistency, such law shall be ‘…null and void’ and that the Constitution prevails.

    The fundamental questions are;

    (i) …Is that which is challenged is for the common or national good?

    (ii) …Is homosexual practice the will and wishes of the people?

    Though some nations have become ‘…morally bankrupt,’ throughout the Commonwealth, this is the recognized principle.

    The two distinguished attorneys shall be encouraged by the Christian community to conscientiously remind themselves that as ‘…God is acknowledged by the people as the ‘…Supreme Being,’ so too is the ‘…Constitution that has been accepted by the people as the ‘…Supreme Law.’

    Pro bono legal services?

    Then what, if any, are the compelling reasons for their advocacy engagement?

    They also appear extremely careful to avoid the issues of ‘…rights of which none is specified in the fundamental rights of the individual as contained in the Constitution.

    The Judiciary, therefore, is bound by the Constitutional provisions.

  5. The wisdom of the persons who wrote the laws is what is being brought into question, seems they were wise enough back then to include those in law but now the aren’t and for a supposedly learned person to state that we are a secular state like the others is disingenuous, who cares what they want to accept, haven’t we noticed that it is because they stand for nothing that they fall for everything, whether you are a christian or not the acts that the lgbtq want to get passed as are unnatural. (lower case is deliberate as far as I am concerned they should not exist) also I do hope that they remember that just as they somehow feel that they are entitled that it is the same position I take I am entitled to be protected in law from them when they want to impose on me a heterosexual male that I am somehow obligated to do their bidding re: the case brought against businesses who have refused to accommodate them on religious grounds.

  6. Counter argument: Vincentian at home with similar lifestyles tendencies have lived without persecution for the 40 years of SVG’s independence. These are unenforced laws, similar to the death penality. Criminals who charged and sentenced for homicides no longer care about facing the gallows, to them murder is just another random act. They can enjoy the amenities in the countryside. So if the laws are not enforced, what’s the argument? Seems unwarranted! Seeking notoriety.

    The matter here, is that imported lifestyles can clash with traditional values. Evident in every society. The emigrants from countries where multiple wives to one male is traditiona, are expected fall in line when they settle in countries where the practice is non traditional.

    The religous aspect of the argument is quite interesting. Our laws, our religions, derived from European traditions. But our values might be local. A “religous schism” may emerge from “beliveres” of African heritage. Their Europeans counterparts had serveral.

    It”s clear that those with alternative sexual preferences have lived happily in SVG for years without persecution and there is no indication that things are going to change with renewal at 40.

  7. I was not going to make eny more comment on I witness news because I find it to be very selective as to what or whoes comment they print.But l have to jump in and be as plane as water.jomo man commit all sorts of sin but he never send fire from haven.jomo man making love in shit is that sanitary.And if you can’t put morality above everything you are not fit to represent nothing.

  8. Jomo Thomas is in no position to quote Bible simply because he cannot accurately exegete Scripture. Keep your head in your law books therefore and leave t he Bible to us.
    Cast the first stone had nothing to so with legalizing sin.

    1. Outspoken Vincy says:

      That’s not legalizing sin, that is about people’s choice and having the right to do what they want to do in their own liife. Leave what Bible quotes to whom. If all those who attend church know so much about the Bible, why don’t you all live by it. All of you are talking and criticizing people and the way they live, please conduct yourselves and worry about your own lives. The Bible states that God destroyed the earth by flood, there were fire and brimstone, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. What was all that? That was destroying life as well. But then on the other hand the Bible also states ” For all have sinned and fall short of the Kingdom of God. Why should we be out there judging each other? We all are commiting sinn on some way or another. I have seenany church goers take their Bibles and make pillows and end up with Bastards, Ministers having sex with women in their congregations and their wives cheating also. I knew of girls that have relationship with Married Men also. Too much to mention. Live and let live. And by the way how many men are out there having Oral Sex with Women who don’t even have proper showers. That’s drowning yourself in a lot of mess that possibly be worst than shit and it goes straight through your system because it I enters the body from your mouth.

  9. This picture of JOMO and ‘Zita’ Barnwell grinning from ear to ear, reminds me of Judas’s delight upon receiving his thirty pieces of silver. Sadly, and a little later however, he could find no repentance and is today languishing in hell awaiting his final judgement.

    JOMO is reminding us that “Jesus (is) for redemption and salvation” and that Jesus had said “he that is without sin cast the first stone,”! That sure is most true but JOMO negates to notice certain fundamentals in his address and that is, salvation and redemption through repentance, are not at all in the hands of the individual transgressors. It is most noticeable in the recorded incident that;

    a) The Lord Jesus had told the woman caught up in sin to go and sin no more.
    b) And according to all of the scriptures, Salvation and Redemption comes through repentance and are in the hands of God alone. Indeed, this is the very point of Martin Luther at the time of the reformation.

    These two points need be understood by JOMO and ‘Zita’ Barnwell, for in their glee at seeking to drive a cart and horse through our God given moral code, they may yet find that there is no place at all for repentance in their behaviour.

    At 2 Timothy 2:24-25 New King James Version (NKJV) we read;
    24 “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,” thus we learn this distinct fact, that all men are under the mercy of God and are urged to seek him out while he may be found and while his mercy yet endures.

    For sure history has a way of repeating itself! Pilate the Roman, we know, like Judas, found no repentance. Both these men knew what was right but chose otherwise. The leaders of the NDP and the ULP like JOMO and ‘Zita’ Barnwell know what is right in the sight of God but are choosing otherwise. Will they ever find repentance?

  10. Are they related Jomo and Zita? They look so much alike. The lawyers are correct, they will win the battle, if they get an unfavorable decision they can appeal to the Privy Council. A precedence has been set already in Caribbean Courts and Belize. It is not Rocket Science. They must win. Ladies and gentlemen brace yourself for an unfavorable decision. How the government can request a referendum on the issue.

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