Global Advocacy Organization Supports Gay Activist’s Constitutional Challenge

The Pro Bono Cause

AIDS-Free World is an international advocacy organization that exposes injustice, abuse and inequality. It was co-founded by Stephen Lewis and Paula Donovan in 2007.

The small team works virtually from a dozen locations in the U.S. and Canada, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. The organization advocates for an AIDS-free world by going after the destructive forces that gave HIV room to explode from a weak virus into a fearsome pandemic: denial, neglect, ignorance, short-sightedness, greed, racism, sexism, bigotry, fanaticism and disregard for human rights. 

Jamaican human rights activist, Maurice Tomlinson, has filed a claim in the Supreme Court of Judicature, challenging the constitutionality of Jamaica’s laws criminalizing consensual sex between men. His legal challenge is being supported by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and AIDS-Free World.

The Osler Pro Bono Connection

Osler litigation partner, Shawn Irving, and litigation associate, Gerard Kennedy, have worked pro bono on this significant constitutional challenge to the criminalization of consensual sex between men in Jamaica. In its arguments, the legal challenge outlines the ways in which the law violates the constitutional rights of Jamaicans. The hope is that the challenge will remove national laws that criminalize gay men and contribute to the stigma, discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI people.

Read more about this legal challenge in Jamaican Gay Activist Launches Constitutional Challenge.
 

Volunteer Reflections

Shawn Irving sums up the importance of this constitutional challenge in the words of Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson, who has filed the claim in the Supreme Court of Judicature, “The Caribbean has the second-highest HIV prevalence in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa. The criminalization and marginalization of consensual sex drives gay men, and other men who have sex with men, underground, away from desperately needed HIV prevention, treatment and testing services.” 

Gerard Kennedy adds that “It is difficult to understate the importance of this litigation. A successful outcome will not only combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Jamaica, but will also ensure the privacy and equality rights of all Jamaicans are respected and protected. It is an honour to support Mr. Tomlinson’s landmark claim.”
 

Shawn Irving

Shawn Irving
Litigation Partner (Toronto)
sirving@osler.com

Gerard Kennedy

Gerard Kennedy
Litigation Associate (Toronto)
 

 

A word from
AIDS-Free World


Farhang Ghajar / CBC

"It’s most unusual to have a law firm so deeply committed to the international struggle against poverty, communicable disease and gender inequality. Both the Stephen Lewis Foundation and AIDS-Free World have benefitted hugely from the principled dedication of the Osler firm. On the one hand, there’s the raising of over a million dollars to subdue the pandemic of HIV/AIDS by supporting community-based organizations on the ground. On the other, there’s the pro bono legal support for advocacy challenging, in court, discrimination against the world of LGBT. Having Osler as a partner has been one of the great privileges for those of us immersed in the fight for human rights and social justice."

Stephen Lewis
Co-founder and Co-director
AIDS-Free World