When two women marry. What must we do if Buggery Law attacked by those who could destroy tourism?
By Linton Gordon
Over a weekend in June we woke up to the news that two ladies got married to each other in Trelawny. This unprecedented lesbian marriage is not recognized by our Laws, as our Laws recognize marriage to be a matrimonial contract between a consenting male adult and a consenting female adult.
However, this marriage is recognized in some countries and may very well be a testing of the waters here in Jamaica.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s decision to initiate a parliamentary debate on our laws pertaining to homosexuality has been welcomed by the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Our laws prohibit “sexual” relationship between man and man. There is no law prohibiting such acts between two females. However certain acts between two females can lead to a charge of Indecent Conduct.
The Offences Against The Persons Act groups any so called sexual act between two males with acts of bestiality. This is a clear indication of the contempt with which the framers of the Law held such acts between two males. There is increasing pressure worldwide for countries to repeal laws that make consenting “sex” between adult males a crime.
Our law is to be found at Section 76 of the Offence Against the Persons Act as follows:
“Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding ten years.”
The Act does not restrict the crime to acts with men only. It follows that “anal sex” with a female is also a crime in our Law.
We have a serious challenge as it relates to the matter. Our main trading partners are the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The majority of our tourists are also from these countries. It can therefore be taken that somewhere along the line some of the tourists coming here are lesbians and some are homosexuals.
Indeed, the operators of our hotels and the employers at these hotels have now learnt that to refuse a gay couple a room can lead to a fall out in business.
Then there was a time when workers at some of these hotels swore that they would not serve homosexuals. Today they have no choice but to do so and they do so and turn a blind eye to the sexual preference of these persons.
There might be potential investors who have refused to come to Jamaica and invest in fear of their lives because of their sexual preference being in conflict with our intolerance. This take us to a very ticklish question, that is: what should be our reaction to a known millionaire homosexual who is prepared to come and invest in the opening of a factory that will employ thousands of Jamaicans? Should we refuse him because he is a homosexual or should we take the route of United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America where the attitude is “While I do not agree with your lifestyle, I will not participate and I will not interfere with you.”
What if a campaign is launched in Europe and North America to discourage tourist from coming to Jamaica because of our Buggery Law? Are we prepared to see the death of tourism rather than a change to the Buggery Law? Should we hang onto the Buggery Law at all cost even if we run the risk of international isolation?
Those who advance religion on justification should assure us that they can, through prayer, lift us out of ignorance, illiteracy and poverty.
It seems to me that all the contenders should move towards a compromise and the compromise should be found in one word ‘ tolerance’. As objectionable and obnoxious as we might find the relationships and acts we discuss herein, we should be prepared to ignore those who so conduct themselves in the way we do not. Those who so conduct themselves should do so in their privacy and without bringing it into our faces.
We as a country should be prepared to make rational and objective decisions in the interest of our country, difficult and painful as these decisions may be.
I personally find the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism unacceptable and, certainly in the case of so called sexual acts between two men, unnatural.
This article therefore should not be taken as one written on their behalf or in support of homosexuals and lesbians. The views I express are entirely in the interest of the country and the interest of this country should be our priority. Full stop.
The findings are based on the LGBT2020 research programme from leading global LGBT marketing specialist Out Now Global -http://www.outnowconsulting.com - which measures consumer spend, purchasing habits and brand preferences across 22 countries.
The new data shows a 9.7 per cent year on year growth in the LGBT travel market, up from US$165 billion in 2012. The findings come at a time when a few Jamaican resorts have become more accepting of same-sex couples.
"Our hotels have always welcomed. We don't necessarily place ads advertising that we accept the LGBT, but we would never turn back persons because of their sexual preferences," said a Negril hotelier, who added that there is really no difference from how the LGBT market was treated by the average hotel 20 years ago.
"The industry has always been more tolerant than the rest of the society," said the hotelier, adding that there are many gays working in the tourism sector, so it's no big news.
Another hotelier says Jamaica is not ready for this market, which is a big mistake. "I have tried to target them in the past, but I have given up, because it's a hard sell, particularly because of our homophobic reputation," said the hotelier.
She said if members of the LGBT community were to turn up at her property they wouldn't be turned back. She admits that the market has huge potential of pumping foreign exchange into the island's coffers. We need to get real and realise that the pink dollar we are prepared to take under the table while ignoring the "types" can't work anymore we are going to have to get open and embracing and have real tolerance if we are to diversify our tourism product and thus improve our economy not with the kinds of numbers we are hearing in terms of LGBT travel and the potential it affords. LGBT consumers are finding the cost of living tough and some are working two or more jobs to keep things together, but with dramatically fewer households with children, travel remains a viable option for more LGBT travellers and one that is still within their household budget.