Change the law - JFLAG says buggery law hurting women, children

May 05, 2017
Diahann Gordon Harrison

The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), in another call for Jamaica's buggery law to be abolished, have undertaken a study backed by data, which concludes the current regulation affects women and children more.

J-FLAG says over 90 per cent of the 354 cases of buggery reported to the police between 2011 and 2015 related to women or persons under 18.

The data says only 7.62 per cent (27 cases) involved an incident between two adult men.

Section 76 of the Offences Against the Person Act criminalises anal sex as "buggery" which differs from the offences of "rape" and "grievous sexual assault".

According to J-FLAG's policy and advocacy manager, Glenroy Murray, the common view that buggery primarily affects adult males having consensual sex in private is therefore proven false.


Wider society


"Those who defend the buggery law as a symbol of Jamaican morality seem to be unaware of how the law adversely affects women, children and the wider society," Murray said. "Since forced anal sex is not considered rape under the law, the men convicted of buggery in these cases can only get a maximum of 10 years."

He noted the minimum sentence for rape is 15 years imprisonment.

"So children and women who have suffered forced anal penetration are given less legal protection not because they suffer less trauma, but because the law, by virtue of a lesser prescribed sentence, treats what happens to them as less serious," he said.

Murray is adamant forced anal penetration is rape and should be treated as such.

"The outdated buggery law hurts our society more than it helps. It is time for it to be replaced with laws that better and equally protect us all," Murray said.

When presented with the JFLAG findings, Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon-Harrison told THE WEEKEND STAR that looking at data herself is always her first approach.

She said she would more recommend and approve of a holistic analysis being conducted of the relevant legislation as opposed to focusing on an analysis of a particular section of the law.

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