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There’s a divide in the church in Jamaica over the decriminalization of buggery, and it has prompted the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue.
The rift materialized after head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Bishop Howard Gregory made a submission to a parliamentary committee examining the Sexual Offences Act and related laws, in which he recommended the removal of the offence of buggery from the law books.
President of the JCC, Reverend Dr Gordon Evans told The Sunday Gleaner that a special sitting of the 13-member Council will be held “sometime in the coming weeks” to discuss the matter.
“We need to have the input of as many of our member denominations as possible, and as we share on it I am sure that we will be helping each other in terms of enlightenment, and we will see where we are and at that point we can share with the wider public how we view it,” Reverend Evans told the newspaper, adding that while the members of the JCC are united in Christ, they have different views on various issue.
Bishop Gregory had indicated that the views expressed in his submission to the parliamentary committee were personal and not that of the church.
“Sexual activity engaged in public spaces is illegal and should continue to be so, whether of and heterosexual or homosexual nature. Beyond that, what happens in privacy between consenting adults should be beyond the purview of the Government,” he had written, further suggesting that government should not bother with a promised referendum on quashing the buggery law, and should instead just strike down the law.
Reverend Evans said while Bishop Gregory is head of the Anglican Church and he could not be denied the right to speak on the issue, it would have been good if he had engaged in discussions with the JCC before speaking publicly on the matter.
As for his own personal view on whether the buggery law should be retained or repealed, Reverend Evans said he was “not at the point of comfort”.
“My comfort is being satisfied that we are doing right to God and right to our fellow human beings,” he said. “There are some questions that need to be answered. The first question is, what happens after the repeal of the buggery law? What will it lead to? It is not enough to say just take it off the books and it will finish there. We would be making a serious assumption because that is not how it has been unfolding in different parts of the world.”
In his submission to the parliamentary committee, Bishop Gregory had also recommended the widening of the definition of rape and recognition of marital rape.