KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Bruce Golding has described gay advocates as “perhaps the most organised lobby in the world”, but has vowed not to yield to pressure to wipe buggery from the books as a crime.
“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” Golding said in Parliament yesterday.
The prime minister was closing the debate on the sexual offences bill.
Ernest Smith, South West St Ann member of parliament, created a stir when he made his contribution to the House last month.
During that speech, Smith charged that the punishment for buggery, which has a maximum seven-year sentence, was not stiff enough and that homosexuals were “abusive and violent”.
Smith later called for the director of public prosecutions to instruct the police to charge members of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) with conspiracy to corrupt public morals.
However, Golding has distanced himself from Smith’s comments on homosexuality and the right of J-FLAG to exist.
“I disagree with the comments he (Smith) made about the rights of persons who advocate for liberation of laws relating to sexual offences, to facilitate, to allow persons the right of choice in their sexual practices,” Golding said.
But Golding made it clear that his government was not prepared to accept suggestions or demands for the crime of buggery to disappear from the books.
“Every society is shaped and defined by certain moral standards and the laws that evolve in that society are informed by a framework that the society recognises.
“If we start to yield; if we start to liberalise in the direction that strong organised lobby would insist that we should, then where do you draw the line?” the prime minister said.
Golding found himself at the edge of the daggers of gay-rights advocates following his “not in my Cabinet” statement that was made on BBC television.
Golding was responding to whether gays would be allowed a place in his Cabinet to which the prime minister responded, “Sure, they can be in the Cabinet but not in my Cabinet.”
Yesterday, Golding said that the Government had a duty to uphold the moral framework of the country through legislation. He also promised that homosexuals would not be targeted because of their lifestyle.
“We have a duty to protect people in the country and, therefore, we will never support or condone either the acts of violence or threats of violence or intimidation in any shape or form against persons because of their sexual preferences or lifestyle,” the prime minister said.
Won’t peep through windows
The prime minister continued: “We will never start peeping in anybody’s bedroom to see what they are doing within their own privacy. We will never start hounding down people because they may have lifestyles that we would prefer did not exist.”
“But what we are not going to do is to give official or legislative endorsement that now holds that up and say this is a perfectly acceptable way to live,” the prime minister said.
Meanwhile, Golding has said that as part of a menu of sexual legislation in the new bill being considered, provision was being made to sentence those persons who engage in buggery carried out in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault to life.
Grievous sexual crimes such as rape, carnal abuse and incest will attract the maximum penalty of life under the proposed sexual offences act.