Judgment in the case of Jason Jones vs the State is expected to be delivered by Justice Devindra Rampersad at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain, today at 10 am. In February 2017, Jones filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalise consensual conduct.
Arguments were heard in January 2018, and today was set aside for judgment. Jones is arguing that the two sections of the Sexual Offences Act violate his dignity, deny him privacy and the right to form a family and treat him unequally in a irrational manner. The State is arguing that he can only challenge the law’s application to adult gay men, and cannot seek to overturn the law’s application to minors or lesbians, because he is not one.
Jones also has to prove that the two provisions of the 1986 act are distinct law from the 1925 Offences against the Person Act, under which similar activities were criminalised. Because the 1986 act was passed with a three-fifths majority, Jones has to prove not only that the provisions infringe his rights, but that they do so in a way that is not reasonably justifiable.
If the court thinks Jones has failed to prove they are new law, all he can do is ask for the law to go back to what it was when the Constitution came into force (in 1976), even if the provisions violate his rights. If the court thinks he has proven the provisions are new law, he can ask for the provisions to be repealed or revised.
Meanwhile the Alliance for Justice and Diversity has invited members of the traditional and citizen media to a presentation and question-and-answer session after the High Court’s judgment. The interactive media session with lawyers and activists will assess the meaning and impact of the case for the LGBTQI community, and distribute materials that can aid in explaining the case and judgment to audiences. The conversation will take place at the Euphoria Lounge, 58 Dundonald Street, from 4 pm, and will end at 4.45 pm.