Fri | May 29, 2020

Homophobic hysteria

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 12:29 AM


Despite what many readers of the Constitution think, it does not enshrine or support wanton homophobia. I have now been disappointed for the third time by the interpretation given to the Constitution by government officials who should know better.

Rather than shut down conversation as the like of Homer Davis and Charles Sinclair would, such incidence illustrates the need for greater dialogue and sensitisation of our nation’s political leaders to better improve their appreciation of what our Constitution actually says.

Who recalls the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee around the issues of decriminalising consensual sexual activity between adults and abortion? The final report of the body made reference to the savings law clause in Section 13(12) of the Constitution as preventing them from changing the law.

This ludicrous interpretation has no merit in constitutional law. That clause prevents the ordinary Jamaican citizen from going to court and trying to have them strike down the law. The clause does not, however, prevent Parliament from changing existing laws to reflect modern values of equality and non-discrimination.

Now I turn to Messrs Davis and Sinclair, who are on record as saying that Section 18 of the Constitution, which says that only heterosexual unions will be legally recognised in Jamaica, prevents a government building being used to promote same-sex marriage. To start, this assertion is ridiculous and patently wrong. Discussing a topic in a public forum does not equate to promoting it. Section 18 prevents same-sex couples from being treated like heterosexual couples, whether or not they are married. That is all it does. It places no block on the Government facilitating healthy debate on constitutional matters in our democracy.

Our politicians need more engagement. They need more sensitisation. Sections 13(12) and 18 do not say that “the gays don’t matter and you can exclude them”.