Misguided church bigots harming kids
THE EDITOR, Sir:
In Jamaica, non-consensual anal intercourse is not considered rape, and the maximum penalty is 10 years' imprisonment under the 1864 British colonially imposed anti-buggery law.
However, the 2009 Sexual Offences Act defines forced vaginal sex as rape and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. This ridiculous anomaly remains today because some parliamentarians argued that a gender-neutral definition of rape would have allowed buggery through the back door.
The act is now up for parliamentary review, and various groups have made compelling submissions calling for rape to be made gender-neutral. Among other things, UNICEF pointed out that the disparity in the definition of, and punishment for, rape was harming young boys who were raped by gang leaders. Since these gangsters would get only 10 years in prison, they would then return to kill their young accusers.
Ignoring these arguments, right-wing religious fundamentalists instantly denounced calls to make the legal definition of rape gender-neutral. These are the same hypocrites who belatedly responded to the plague of sexual abuse by clerics that is finally being revealed, including allegations against an elder in the prime minister's own denomination.
The fundamentalists' unfounded fear is that the genderless rape definition could lead to gay marriage. But the 2011 Charter of Rights explicitly bans any recognition of any same-gender relationships.
So to spite gay men, and to be ignorant of the law, the evangelicals would rather see children harmed.
Well-thinking Jamaicans hope that the minister of justice will ignore these bigoted extremists and do the right thing, both for the sake of our children and our nation's international reputation.