'Buggery law firm'. But only for the time being. Whether by coincidence or design, on the same day (Wednesday, March 4) that the Page A1 lead headline of The Gleaner shouted 'Buggery law firm', the Hospitality Jamaica magazine inside the paper was bellowing even more loudly 'Pink power' on its front page. 'What recession?', the magazine story asked, 'gays are spending'.
Describing gay advocates as "perhaps the most organised lobby in the world" the prime minister, as the lead story reported, reiterated his BBC statement "not to yield to pressure to wipe buggery from the books as crime. We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery".
If Golding lasts long in office, even as long as the duration of this parliamentary term, buggery will stand up to severely test his mettle. Not only is he, and those in the Parliament who are on his side of the issue, up against "the most organised lobby", they are up against a massive sea change in attitude on the issue. What the Germans call weltanschauung, the world view, the conception of the cosmos and of human life and values, has substantially shifted. The gay lobby didn't create the shift; they are just riding it to the max. The Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, the pattern of thought and feeling, is not on the side of Golding's defiant stance.
Quite correctly, the prime minister noted in his contribution to the debate in Parliament on the Sexual Offences Bill that "every society is shaped by and defined by certain moral standards and the laws that evolve in that society are informed by a framework that the society recognises". But it is precisely those moral standards and that framework for law which have shifted, leaving Golding stuck in a past which is no longer present, except as sentiment.
The prime minister wanted to know, "If we start to yield, if we start to liberalise in the direction that that strong organised lobby would insist that we should, then where do you draw the line?"
But the yielding, or, more correctly, the shifting, has already been long under way. We inherited our common law and statute laws - and even our Constitution - from Britain, a legal code rooted in Protestant Christianity. Britain repealed its buggery law in 1967 and has subsequently extensively 'liberalised' same-sex relationships stopping, for the time being, just short of marriage but allowing 'civil partnerships'. But on a longer time line, running back to at least 150 years, our legal and political mother country has been progressively repudiating the Protestant Christian moral code on which its laws and politics have rested. The whole of the so-called developed West, with the United States lagging well behind Europe, has entered this post-Christian phase.
The Jamaica Constitution, like democratic constitutions everywhere, guarantees a range of fundamental rights and freedoms. The 'powerful lobby' has seized upon this opening. But the framers of the Constitution and the hundreds-year-old legal, political, cultural and religious milieu in which they did their framing had substantially different views on the delimitation of rights and freedoms than the powerful lobby and their sympathisers have. No society can hold together with limitless rights and freedoms.
gay honeymoon market
Jamaica is locked into a global economy now doing badly and controlled by powerful players which are far more 'advanced' in their legislation of homosexuality. And money talks loudly. The 'Pink power' Gleaner story blandly announced that "with some eight Jamaican gay/lesbian-friendly resorts accepting members of that community, these properties have opened themselves to tapping into the estimated US$64.5 billion annual gay market leisure spend. This will be a boost to these properties, especially during a year that is plagued with a global financial crisis. Ideally, all they have to do is concentrate on the gay honeymoon market."
Buggery, and society in general, is heading for the future back to a pre-Christian past. As a matter of historical fact, only the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have had a problem with homosexuality.
In fact, William Naphy, who has extensively researched the story, notes that a striking feature of the ancient Near East was "how few cultures seem to have any significant 'moral' concern about same-sex activities. Most cultures seemed to accept that males might have sexual relations with other males".
The pantheons of gods freely copulated with whomever and whatever. It was a golden age of moral relativism where everyone's god and lifestyle could find a place, much like today.
The admired Greeks had their pederasty, the social institution of an older man having a pubescent boy as lover under his protection and whom he would educate. There is now a political party in The Netherlands, one of the first places to legalise homosexual marriage, devoted to the legalisation of child sex. Many of the ancient legal codes which legitimated homosexuality did the same for bestiality. Hence the importance of the prime minister's question, "Where do you draw the line?" But it is also very relevant to ask, where did this start?
In the pro-homosexual milieu of the ancient world, Old Testament law thundered: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." And, on account of the abominations, the land is defiled and will vomit out its inhabitants (Leviticus 18).
Paul, who, after Jesus Christ himself, was the most influential definer of Christianity, railed against the 'vile passions' that led men "to (leave) the natural use of the woman and burn in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:27).
A part of the shifting weltanschauung and Zeitgeist is a grand theological reinterpretation of these and other nakedly plain anti-homosexual passages.
Barring another major Christian revival, and there have been many which have changed the course of history, there is a massive inevitability to the adjusting of the legal code to accommodate resurgent paganism and its proclivity for homosexuality with all the attendant consequences.
Martin Henry is a communications consultant who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org