It’s taken more than a century to soften up hardline prohibition against marijuana possession in Jamaica, but finally, by introducing the limit of two ounces (27 grams) per person, the country took a step forward in April 2015 with its amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act. Before that, consumers were arrested and sent to jail even for a single joint. A week in prison, a fine and, sometimes, even death in custody, as was the sad fate of Mario Deane two years ago, beaten to death in the Montego Bay lock-up.
It is time now to amend the Buggery Act, the infamous law persecuting homosexuals all over Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica. First decreed in England in 1533, the Sodomy Law was abolished there in 2003, but it still rules over most of the former English-speaking colonies. And yet that may be starting to change.
First step from Belize
At the beginning, it was the death sentence by hanging, commuted during 1861 to life sentence. Now, one can receive 10 years of hard labour for sodomy, or seven with or without hard labor for attempted sodomy. The text of the law, spelled out in 1861, read as follows:
Article 76: “Anyone who is caught committing the abominable crime of buggery (anal intercourse) in public or private, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding 10 years.” And Article 77: “Whoever attempts to commit the abominable crime referred to above, shall be liable to be imprisoned for a terms not exceeding seven years, with or without hard labor.”