Wed | Mar 29, 2017

Is Mark Golding really sincere?

Published:Wednesday | November 18, 2015 | 11:02 AM

In his column 'Why we should embrace the CCJ' (Sunday Gleaner, November 8, 2015), Justice Minister Mark Golding stated, in part, with reference to the Charter of Rights, that " ... the Charter's saving provisions ... was deliberately adopted by the Jamaican legislators to protect the buggery law and the law prohibiting abortion from being challenged under the Charter of Rights. These two laws are both found in the Offences Against the Person Act, a Victorian statute dating from the 1860s."

The minister proceeded in said article to refer to possible court challenges to those "archaic" laws and to the savings clause. From Minister Golding's use of the words 'Victorian' and 'archaic' it is clear that he has no use for the laws against buggery and abortion. However, the age of a law cannot, of itself, be a test of its usefulness and value. If the circumstances which the law sought to address no longer exist, that would be a valid reason to repeal a law, as distinct from age of the law simpliciter. In this case, it is arguable that both laws are even more justifiable now than in the Victorian age.

From what we have seen of the unfolding of events in other countries, the repeal of buggery laws facilitates the redefinition of marriage and family. Additionally, the negative public-health outcomes (most of which were not present in the Victorian age) are in no way mitigated by stamping buggery with a seal of legal approval.

The use of those words by the minister is consistent with comments he made on July 14, 2012 at a lecture held at UTech. At that lecture, he declared that "it's very important that we eliminate that savings clause from our Constitution". The lecture was delivered by Australian, Justice Kirby, a self-proclaimed homosexual. The minister also said at that lecture, again in relation to the savings clause, that from the "standpoint of the minister of justice, which I happen to be at the moment, it is an offensive provision and I'd like to see it removed".

Note what causes 'offence' to the minister: not buggery or abortion, it's the savings clause of the charter, which, as the minister himself said, was "deliberately adopted by the Jamaican legislators to protect the buggery law and the law prohibiting abortion from being challenged under the Charter of Rights".

Again, according to Minister Golding in said article " ... The final courts of independent countries have transformed their societies by far-reaching decisions on a range of social and political issues, including segregation, abortion and same-sex relations ... ." The word 'transformed' is indeed appropriate to use as it relates to decisions striking down racial laws but the word certainly is NOT appropriate for decisions legitimising the killing of real, unborn babies. Nor is the word appropriate for the legitimisation of same-sex relationships of whatever form.

Many countries that have legitimised same-sex relations have seen the suppression of fundamental freedoms in favour of LGBT 'rights'.

What is now being pushed is a godless concept of human rights on which concepts such as good, right and wrong have been sacrificed with harsh penalties for those who refuse to bow.

It's this godless concept of human rights which the charter, as initially proposed, would have released on the unsuspecting people of Jamaica. Hence the decision of the legislators to have a savings clause and to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. It's this savings clause that our minister of justice said publicly in 2012 that he finds "offensive".

Knowing then the minister's clearly articulated opposition to the savings clause makes us question his sincerity when he links the discussion on the savings clause with the adoption of the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of the land.

- Shirley Richards is an attorney-at-law and lobbyist against the repeal of the buggery and abortion laws. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and sprichards@cwjamaica.com.