Massive agreement with buggery law

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The overwhelming majority of Jamaicans polled by Bill Johnson say that the law making sex between two men punishable should not be changed.

Strong support for the buggery law emerged from two surveys conducted March 12-15, 2020 and July 9-12, 2020 by the veteran pollster among 1,200 voting-age Jamaicans across the country. The polls have a sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent. Both were commissioned by the Jamaica Observer, but the March poll was not published due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the island.

Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act, Section 76, makes buggery punishable across the board, with a penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years, with hard labour.

When the pollsters asked Jamaicans to state whether law should be changed or not, 93 per cent of respondents in both polls said no.

Support for amendments to the law totalled a mere three per cent in the March poll and five per cent in the July survey.

The results are a reminder of the strong, traditional views held by Jamaicans about homosexuality.

In December 2018 a parliamentary committee reviewing sexual offences legislation recommended that buggery, abortion and other issues of “broad public divide” could be put to a referendum.

The committee felt that Parliament “as a whole” should consider the issues, rather than have them be the subject of the committee’s recommendations.

The recommendations were an obvious setback for gay rights and pro-choice supporters who had hoped for more affinity with their cause. They also reignited interest in a proposal for a super referendum to address the controversial issues made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in the run-up to the 2016 General Election.

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