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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Irrationality of the Existence of the Buggery Law

In 2009 with the sexual offences bill being debated, Ernest Smith, South West St Ann Member of Parliament, made a few comments regarding the characteristics of homosexuals and the severity of punishment for buggery. Smith further called for J-FLAG to be investigated for conspiracy to corrupt public morals. Bruce Golding (Prime Minister) in distancing himself from Smiths’ comments said, "I disagree with the comments he (Smith) made about the rights of persons who advocate for liberation of laws relating to sexual offences, to facilitate, to allow persons the right of choice in their sexual practices" . With this do I start.

If persons have the right of choice in their sexual practices then why does the buggery law exist? The buggery law (sections 76, 77 and 79) of the Offences against the Person Act goes against the very notion of the right of someone to choose what sexual activity or practice they will engage in.

There are two points that are advanced for the validation, of keeping this law on the books. There are:

1. To protect our children. Nonsense. Removal of the buggery law will not increase the possibility of our children being sexual targets. In a sexual offence case recently a JLP minister was charged with buggery. That man should have been charged with rape! Rape is forced sexual activity against someone’s will. The protection of children, women and men should not rest on the continuance of this law. It in fact reduces the sentence of the perpetrator.

2. It is against Christian moral. Now for the people (of which there are many) who seem to have forgotten that Jamaica is not a church state, the reason the buggery law is kept on the books cannot rest on Christian or any other religious argument. The Charter of Rights (section 21) guarantees each person the right to freedom of conscience (which includes freedom of religion); to bind anyone to a law because it is your religious view - that they are wrong and in this case immoral - is a travesty and a violation of that person’s constitutional right.

"If we start to yield; if we start to liberalize in the direction that strong organized lobby would insist that we should, then where do you draw the line?" the prime minister said. Again Mr. Golding like many opponents of human rights for gays, you seem to want to create a link between the human rights and the sexual rights of homosexuals and those in the GLBT(Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered) community, with bestiality and pedophilia. Bestiality and homosexuality are two different things Mr. Golding. I do not condone bestiality. Homosexuality concerns a same-sex, human to human relationship, not human-animal relationship; the same goes for pedophilia; pedophilia “is a psychological disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children” (World Health Organization, Section F65.4). There are pedophiles who are attracted to young girls and pedophiles who are attracted to young boys. Those are different from adults who are attracted to adults of the same sex.

Again the Prime Minister says, "We have a duty to protect people in the country, and therefore, we will never support or condone either the acts of violence or threats of violence or intimidation in any shape or form against persons because of their sexual preferences or lifestyle,” yet it is known that persons are harassed, abused, and been recipients of violence due to their sexual orientations; and the Charter of Rights was recently passed without protection from discrimination for persons of the GLBT community. You have failed Mr. Golding, you and your government have failed at your “duty to protect the people in the country”, including the GLBT community. You need to be held accountable, and don’t laugh it off like you did with Mr. K.D Knight recently (Mannatt/Dudus Inquiry).

Mr. Golding has said that as part of a menu of sexual legislation in the new bill being considered; provision was being made to sentence those persons who engage in buggery carried out in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault to life. May I advise you Mr. Brilliant Prime Minister, that to be able to effectively bring about that legislation, it means you will need to acknowledge that there are instances where buggery is not committed in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assaults.

"We will never start peeping in anybody's bedroom to see what they are doing within their own privacy. We will never start hounding down people because they may have lifestyles that we would prefer did not exist." As much as many would prefer that other sexual orientations did not exist, Mr. Golding, you do not have any authority to dictate who a person is, what sexual preference they may chose, or what orientation they may be born as. Regarding the ‘ bedroom[s]’, let me make you aware that per section 19(2)(b),(c) and contrary to what you, and many others purport, police and any other such person acting under the authority of the law can kick down your door, or break through your window, for the purpose of defending (as Mr. Smith said) the public morality, or from preventing a crime from taking place (buggery).

One question I will ask to finish off my article is for Mr. Golding, a member of the security forces, and/or an attorney at law. If two persons (male and male, or male and female, or female and female) are engaging in anal sex, and the neighbours break in on them and begin to inflict injury; when that is reported to the police:

1. Will the persons engaging in anal sex be charged for buggery?

2. Will the police only charge the neighbours who broke in and inflicted harm?

3. Will the police charge both sets?

If the answer to the above is #3 then, it means the law is ineffective, discriminatory, and a stumbling block to the access of protection.

What say you?

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