Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Anthony Gambrill | Back story

Published:Sunday | April 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Some controversial subjects like Trafigura, the missing Cuba light bulbs, and the prime minister's Beverly Hills fortress just keep floating to the surface for a while and disappearing again - for a while.

This phenomenon occurred again recently when Mark Connolly from the UN country team read out a recommendation to a parliamentary committee that Jamaica's Parliament should approve a redefinition of sexual intercourse to add penetration of the anus in order to fairly protect men and women against sexual violence. To remind readers, only a woman can be raped under Jamaican law. This offence carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment. Buggery, however, attracts a maximum of seven years' incarceration only.

Here's the significance of this to our back story. On December 10, 2011, the president of the People's National Party, Mama P, in a pre-election political debate, promised to review the country's buggery law. This, I would suspect, raised the ire of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Associated Gospel Assemblies. After the JLP was re-elected yet once again, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said that there would be a review that would run for up to six months, "after which a report on the recommendations will be done". The issue apparently sank like a stone in the Blue Hole.

I decided to revive it, fictitiously, with the Jamaica Labour Party, now that they were in power, in order to find out what progress, if any, had been made.

AG: So, how far has Jamaica got to changing its 1864 buggery law?

JLP: I can assure you it's under active investigation. As you can imagine, it raises a lot of questions.

AG: You mean, you need a definition of anal penetration?

JLP: No, no, I think most Jamaicans know where an anus is.

AG: Then, a definition of a penis?

JLP: Perhaps, but not usually described by that physiological term.

AG: Yes, I understand. But how is your Government going to proceed?

JLP: Please understand, all options are on the table.

AG: Such as?

JLP: Naturally, an independent government-led committee will have to be set up to do a review over, say, the next 12 months.

AG: At the taxpayers' expense, no doubt.

JLP: No doubt. And then its recommendations will need to be discussed and analysed by government ministers.

AG: Which ministers? Justice, I presume ... .

JLP: ... Gender, sports, national security, economic growth, etc., covering all cohorts, including the transgender.

JLP: Trans what?

AG: Never mind. You realise that you will be challenging the status quo.

JLP: You've put your finger on it. That's why we will have to hire a consultant, maybe several.

AG: More taxpayer expense.

JLP: You know, a go-to man or woman. A multi-tasker with facilitating skills and sustainable solutions. It will require a paradigm shift in our society's traditional point of view.

AG: You mean from front to back?

JLP: Eh?

AG: I'm joking. What then?

JLP: Well, of course, its standard procedure to have a memorandum of understanding. We don't do anything in Jamaica without a memorandum of understanding.

AG: Between whom?

JLP: That will have to be decided later.

AG: But you realise that most Jamaicans know same-sex couples have been cohabiting in Jamaican hotels for years. I would think some anal penetration has been taking place by mutual consent, but nobody has been arrested yet.

JLP: (laughs nervously) As the English say, it's the exception that proves the rule.

AG:Whatever that means. I only hope that gays take part in the conversation. They are the ones objecting to their loss of rights under present conditions.

JLP: Inevitably.

AG: You aren't just kicking the can down the road?

JLP: Certainly not.

AG: It's not going to be the same-old, same-old?

JLP: We're expecting a win-win outcome.

AG: Not just a string of platitudes? You're not going to just promote celibacy for gays? Maybe they should take orders in the Catholic Church ... although that might not work, come to think of it.

JLP: Certainly not. By the next election we will have a road map. It will be our signature achievement.

AG: Then we will be able to replace this back story with a front story, no doubt.

- Anthony Gambrill is a playwright. Email feedback to