July 1, 2022

Free up buggery! – Leader breaks ranks with many Christian colleagues

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ByJovan Johnson, Arthur Hall From Jamaica Observer

Head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Bishop Howard Gregory, has broken ranks with many of his Christian brethren and urged the parliamentary committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws to recommend the removal of the offence of buggery from the law books, widen the definition of rape, and recognise marital rape.

In a written submission to the committee in which he emphasised that his views were personal, Gregory placed his position in line with executed German Christian leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had argued that the aim of the Church is not “that the authorities make Christian policies, Christian laws and so on, but that they be proper authorities in the sense of their special commission”.

According to Gregory, the State should not waste time with a referendum on the buggery law but should just strike it from the books.

Gregory said Christians should be cautioned against believing in the view that they must be the gatekeepers of the law against buggery in order to prevent the legalisation 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 said.

Gregory argued that while the anus is not a sexual organ, it has been part of sexual activity between men and women.

Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act of 1864 criminalises the ‘abominable’ anal sex – consensual or otherwise. The maximum punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment.

But Gregory argued: “Sexual activity engaged in public spaces is illegal and should continue to be so, whether of an heterosexual or homosexual nature.

“Beyond that,” Gregory added, “what happens in privacy between consenting adults should be beyond the purview of the Government.”

He said to establish that the offence took place under the current laws would require the people being exhibitionists or persons or agents of the State “peeping” into the privacy of consenting adults, “which the Government should not become entangled with”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, before his party won the 2016 general election, promised that the removal of the buggery law would be put to Jamaicans in a referendum. Since the victory, Holness has said while the referendum will take place, it is not a priority for his Government.

Delroy Chuck, who chairs the parliamentary committee, said at a function earlier this year that CARICOM’s parliaments should simply stare down the church lobby and strike down the law. But he soon after reverted to the referendum position after facing criticisms.

Gregory, in his submission, said treating the anal sex issue as a priority and to continue the criminalisation “needs to be seriously questioned as a sustainable position” and whether it is not a distraction to governance “better confined to a realm defined as personal ethics and sexual preference”.

“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,” he argued.

Most Jamaicans have historically been against homosexuality. A Gleaner-Bill Johnson poll in 2014 found that 91 per cent of Jamaicans believe lawmakers should make no attempt to repeal the controversial buggery law.

Six church groups and the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society gave their submissions to Parliament, urging the lawmakers to retain the buggery law for the health of the nation and upholding Christian principles.

In a separate appearance, the president of the Marcus Garvey Research Institute, Baba Heru Ishakamusa Menelik, called for tougher penalties, saying homosexuality is not a “normal way of life” and could quicken the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Turning to the thorny issue of marital rape, Gregory argued that there can be rape in marriage, a view that also breaks ranks with the position of church groups, including the fast-rising Jamaica Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

“Non-consensual sex accompanied by threat, intimidation and violence ought to be characterised as rape,” he said.

Jamaica’s law allows for marital rape in cases where there was physical separation of the man and the woman.

But Gregory said in the context of an abusive relationship, “even without reaching the point of physical separation or abuse”, rape can occur.

Gregory further argued that Jamaica would do well to move away from the preoccupation with whether it is an anus or vagina, male or female when it comes to rape.

“Central to the definition of rape is the notion of the sexual activity being non-consensual. When then would the law make a distinction between the experiences of a Jamaican male student … and the female student who may have been raped under similar circumstances,” said Gregory, as he pointed to a male student who was allegedly raped by a teacher.

The parliamentary committee completed oral submissions last Tuesday, with its report expected to be completed by November and submitted to the House of Representatives for debate.

IMAGE: File Gregory

For more on this story go to: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170723/free-buggery-leader-breaks-ranks-many-christian-colleagues

Related story:

Pastor troubled by Bishop’s position on buggery law
By Ryon Jones From Jamaican Gleaner

“Sad” is how pastor of the Richmond Park Church of the Nazarene, the Reverend Andrew Henry, has described the recommendation made by head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, Bishop Howard Gregory, for buggery to be decriminalised.

Despite Gregory having stated that the view was his own, Henry said that he did not think that the personal position of the leader of a church can be too far from that of the church.

“I was very surprised by that kind of response from one of our leaders because I thought that now, more than ever, the Church ought to speak from a very unified position,” Henry said.

“And to have the head of a very established denomination breaking ranks, in my mind, is really a step down or a lowering of the standard of the Church, and that for me is really disheartening and troubling.”

Henry said that the Church of the Nazarene, which is an evangelical Christian denomination, believes that human sexuality is one expression of holiness, and the beauty that God has given to Man and homosexuality is one means by which it is perverted.

“What we are saying is, if the situation is immoral, then whether it is done publicly or privately, it is still immoral,” Henry said. “And if you do not have certain laws in place, then you are going to have a proliferation of things. So I maintain that it should be illegal.”

In his written submission to the parliamentary committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws, Gregory also argued that there can be rape in marriage, a view that also breaks ranks with the position of church groups.

Henry, however, said that he was inclined to agree with Gregory on the issue of marital rape as he believed if a woman “says no, she must be respected as a human being”.

Henry added: “There could be various other things that she did not say in that first conversation, and if you truly love and respect her, you are going to want to find out what the issue is as it could be a red flag.”

Henry is calling for the various denominations to come together and state a clear position on key issues such as buggery and marital rape to avoid variance.

For more on this story go to: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20170724/pastor-troubled-bishops-position-buggery-law

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