PM says country won’t be forced to decriminalise buggery
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
PRIME Minister Bruce Golding was adamant yesterday that his Government would in no way bow to pressure from individual organisations, individuals, foreign governments or groups of countries to give a free rein to buggery.
Speaking in the House of Representatives while tabling additional amendments to the proposed Sexual Offences Bill now being debated by the House, Golding made it clear that he “will never support acts or threats of violence or intimidation in any shape or form against persons because of their sexual preferences and lifestyle”. However, he also said that the Government would never give legal endorsement to such practices.
“We will never start peeping in anybody’s bedroom to see what they are doing in privacy… but what we are not going to do is give official or legislative endorsement that holds that up and says this is a perfectly acceptable way to live,” the prime minister said. “This Government is not going to do it.”
“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, foreign governments or groups of countries to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” Golding said, noting that his Government has been “harshly criticised” by gay rights groups for its stance on homosexuality.
That criticism increased last year when Golding told a BBC interviewer in London that he would not allow homosexuals in his Cabinet.
Said Golding yesterday: “I have said before that every society is shaped and defined by certain moral standards… if we start to yield, if we start to liberalise in a direction that strong, organised lobby insists that we should, then where do you draw the line?”
The prime minister, however, distanced his administration from comments made recently by South West St Ann Member of Parliament (MP) Ernest Smith, intimating that homosexuals were violent and should not be allowed to form advocacy groups.
“I speak for the Government,” he said. “I disagree with the comment he made about the right of persons who advocate for the liberalisation of laws to allow persons the right of choice in their sexual practices.”
Golding said gay rights groups such as J-Flag had a right to exist and articulate their views based on the Constitution of Jamaica, a right enjoyed by all citizens of the country.
He further said any act of violence committed against such persons because of their sexual preferences must be pursued, investigated, prosecuted, and dealt with, with the same force and zealousness as any other crime.
Acts of buggery are punishable in Jamaica with up to 10 years in jail at hard labour.
Since the debate on the proposed Sexual Offence Bill there have been concerns over the disparity in the treatment of rape as against that for buggery with suggestions that the new Bill should also include provisions to allow the penalty for the offence of buggery to be as stringent as that for rape and other grievous sexual offences. Under the law, statutory rape and rape carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Golding yesterday said it has been agreed to make separate provision in the Sexual Offences Act to deal with the treatment of buggery.
Debate on the Sexual Offences Act 2008, which seeks to bring together all laws dealing with rape, incest and other sex crimes, began in the House of Representatives on January 27 this year, and is expected to continue during the next meeting of the House.
see also this Gleaner article:
Buggery laws firm – Prime Minister of Jamaica says life sentences for sex-offence breaches