Kingston --- March 5, 2009
The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays is calling upon Prime Minister Bruce Golding to further clarify his recent statements about the maintenance of the law against buggery. We wish to know precisely what the Prime Minister means by buggery "in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault" and what the implications of that are for consensual sex between men. We are also concerned about the tone of Mr. Golding's statement and note with amazement the Prime Minister's stance that the country's ‘Christian values’ should trump individual rights.
We wish to restate our problem with the buggery law as it applies to consenting adults. It is our belief that in a democracy, the definition of crime must relate to an act that creates a victim or victims. Consensual sex between men has no victims, which means that its criminalisation serves to protect no one. This makes men who engage in anal sex into un-apprehended criminals as well as creates a hurdle for those working in the fight against HIV. If, as Mr. Golding suggests, the maintenance of the provision is consistent with our values as a Christian society, he must explain why there are no laws to proscribe a number of other practices that Christians find offensive or sinful.
We maintain that as long as there are no laws against fornication or adultery, maintenance of a law against the sexual orientation neutral buggery is an act that targets gay men. In the absence of laws criminalising sexual and other sins, the anti-buggery prohibition is prejudicial, selective and discriminatory. We believe that Jamaica is a plural democracy and not a theocracy, and that the respect accorded to the views of a religious majority should in no way become the basis for discriminating against a minority.
It is therefore our view that the principle upon which the Prime Minister has argued for the maintenance of the provision against buggery is flawed. We believe that the primary concern of a Prime Minister should be with the protection of the innocent, not the criminalisation of sin.
Contact: Jason McFarlane