By Devon Dick
RECENTLY, THERE was an allegation that two young men were caught in a 'compromising position' in a bathroom at the University of Technology (UTech). It is further alleged that a group of students decided to take the law into their own hands and acted violently towards those caught in the sex act, one of whom ran to security guards for protection only to be beaten by the security guards. Assuming these allegations were true, then this is a serious, awful and potentially explosive situation.
That a group of tertiary students, the cream of the crop of our young people, could think that it would be appropriate to beat students engaging in homosexual activity in public is frightening. They should know better and encourage due process and extol the virtues of natural justice. Suppose one of the youngsters was being forced or blackmailed into engaging in this act? The students cannot be judge, jury and executioner. And how dare they believe that a violent battering is appropriate!
Furthermore, most of them would not have witnessed the homosexual act but would have acted violently based on hearsay. Do not these bright students realise that they would not be safe because some evil person could spread a lie that they were seen having homosexual sex in the open and a mob could descend on them? These students need to recognise that there can be no excuse for such behaviour and the book should be thrown at them.
Injury added to insult
And it got worse. The security guards, who should have been serving and protecting the student who was a victim of the illegal beating, turned around and applied their own punishment. It is dangerous when a place a refuge and a symbol of protection facilitates abuse. This will break down confidence in law and order and the community will become a jungle where no one is safe, with every one acting for himself. The security guards missed their calling and did grievous harm to the role of guards.
The case is before the courts and we expect justice to be done and that they will get natural justice at the hands of the security company.
Hopefully, between UTech and the security company, they will pay for that student's medical bill and any therapy that is necessary from that traumatic and illegal beating.
UTech has issued a statement on its actions subsequent to the beating and should be commended for its swift action. However, UTech was silent on the issue of alleged sex in a bathroom. Sexual intercourse in public is an offence and the person would be in breach of 'OUTRAGING PUBLIC DECENCY', which is contrary to common law.
The elements of the offence being:
(a) the act must be committed in a public place, which means it is possible for persons to have seen it;
(b) the nature of the act was of such nature (lewd or obscene) that it would outrage and shock public decency.
The case is triable before the Resident Magistrate's Court with a maximum period of imprisonment for three years or a maximum fine of $1 million. Therefore, these two youngsters should be investigated and be charged under outraging public decency if it was consensual sex.
It does not matter whether it is homosexual activity or heterosexual activity or whether the persons were unmarried or married; if there is sexual intercourse in a public bathroom space, then it is an offence. No one should be displaying sexual intercourse in public and leave such an image in the psyche of a fellow student.
UTech needs to break the silence on the issue of 'sex in a bathroom' and help to clean up this messy situation.
Rev Devon Dick, PhD, is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is the author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.