KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday July 25, 2017 – The Head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands is suggesting that the Andrew Holness government should not bother with a promised referendum on quashing the buggery law, and should instead just strike down the law.
Bishop Howard Gregory outlined his personal position in a written submission to a parliamentary committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws.
“Sexual activity engaged in public spaces is illegal and should continue to be so, whether of and heterosexual or homosexual nature. Beyond that, what happens in privacy between consenting adults should be beyond the purview of the Government,” he wrote.
Under Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act, anal sex – consensual or not – is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But ahead of his Jamaica Labour Party’s victory in last year’s election, Holness had promised a referendum on decriminalizing buggery.
However, Bishop Gregory argued that “the promise of a referendum on the issue is, at best, a way in which those responsible for governance are postponing the issue in order to avoid taking controversial decisions”.
According to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, Bishop Gregory contended that Christians should be cautioned against believing they must be the gatekeepers of the law against buggery in order to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“This submission does not accept the cause and effect relationship which is being introduced into this matter, neither is it advocating homosexual marriages,” he wrote.
His position does not square with that of six church groups and the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, which have made submissions to Parliament urging that the buggery law be retained.
Meantime, Bishop Gregory also wants rape to be recognized as possible in the setting of a marriage.
Currently, marital rape is recognized only in the case of physical separation between a married couple. However, the outspoken Anglican Bishop argued that all non-consensual sex, accompanied by threat, intimidation or violence ought to be characterized as rape, whether or not the parties involved are married people living together.
He argued that even without reaching the point of physical separation or abuse, rape can occur.