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“My conscience is very clear, I have no regrets in taking on this case,” Attorney at Law Cara Shillingford on the Buggery case

Renowned constitutional lawyer Cara Shillingford who filed the constitutional matter on behalf of the gay man challenging the laws of buggery in Dominica has defended her decision to take the matter to court.

Shillingford has been on the receiving end of comments from several persons on talk shows questioning her decision to take on that case.

However, in an exclusive interview with journalist and Q95 Hott Seat Talk show host Matt Peltier, she explained that as an attorney at law, it is her responsibility to represent her clients to the best of her ability and, this is something, that she must do “regardless of the client’s race, political opinion, place of origin, nationality, sexual orientation and gender.”

“Now, it would have been easy for me to say, Oh I am not interested in this case and let another lawyer take it on. However, the danger of taking on this approach and being a coward, shying away from doing something that I believe is correct is that if every lawyer in Dominica decides not to take on unpopular cases, not to file constitutional challenges, not to challenge those in power or the status quo, then things will simply remain as it is,” Shillingford stated.

“The Constitution will just be a piece of paper with words. So as an attorney at law, I have a responsibility to do what I think is right even though that decision might be unpopular. I believe that the laws that were recently struck down were unconstitutional and violated the human rights of persons. We must understand that section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act made it an offense for any adult to partake in the act of buggery.”

This section she explained did not specify that it applies to LGBT persons. “This means that every heterosexual person (meaning every man and woman) who has partaken in that in the privacy of their home would be liable to go to prison for up to ten years,” she said.

“I do not know what goes on in the privacy of person’s homes, but what I do know is that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes is their business…it is not my business it is not the business of the law. If it is that a child is being affected or someone not capable of consenting is being affected, then, the law can intervene,” Shillingford posited.

“Additionally, as Christians, we need to read the entire bible and not be hypocrites. The Bible said that Jesus said to a crowd, he who has not sinned, cast the first stone. I believe in the bible, I am a Christian, however, I try not to be a hypocrite. It cannot be that the laws of Dominica do not criminalize fornication, adultery, and other sins however, we are quick to judge and criminalize and send persons to prison (adults) who engage in buggery for ten years.”

Shillingford also stated that during the trial, the State agreed with the Claimant and asked the Judge to “hold that the laws were unconstitutional and the churches who were part of the case did not submit anything.”

“Legally, you cannot criminalize something because you think it is a sin, that is not the purpose of the law. I understand that people feel very strongly about this issue, however, I urge everyone to reflect, take a moment, and think about the right thing to do. There is constitutional protection and there is something called human rights which is to protect the rights of minorities.”

“My conscience is very clear, I have no regrets in taking on this case, I think it was the right thing to do and everybody is still entitled to have their religious views. The law however has to treat everyone equally and cannot infringe on the rights of individuals,” she stated.  

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1 COMMENT

  1. Paragraph 9; Line 4-5 indicates that the matter went practically unchallenged by the representatives of the ‘faithful’:

    “…the churches who were part of the case did not submit anything”.

    That about sums it up.

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