It is an issue which remains taboo for many.
But it is one which our legislators and other social leaders will have to look at dispassionately at some stage.
The question of same-sex relationships is one that occasions highly emotive response. Often, religious beliefs are at the centre of arguments emanating from those objecting to such unions. Those who support same-sex relationships base much of their opinions on the human rights of individuals, specifically the right of adults to enter into relationships of their own choosing.
Those who object on religious grounds frequently point to Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 13, which states: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Reference has also been made to other sections of the holy script to demonise same-sex relationships.
Conversely, there have been historical arguments by supporters of same-sex relationships suggesting that David, a king, and the only man described in the bible as a man after God’s own heart, was involved in a homosexual relationship with Jonathan.
Reference to the book of Samuel turns up some interesting quotes. In expressing his grief following the death of Jonathan, David is quoted in the second book of Samuel, Chapter 1, Verse 26 as saying: “I am distressed for thee my brother Jonathan; very pleasant has thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”
The first book of Samuel, Chapter 18, Verses 1 to 4 is also frequently quoted: “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as as his own soul . . .Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”
The question often posed: Why would one man strip naked in front of another, other than for something sexual.
But it is often a dangerous exercise to impose beliefs on others based on imperfect man’s religious translations and interpretations. It is perhaps even more dangerous when those impositions relate to adult sexual orientation.
We make no case for the legitimizing of same-sex relationships nor do we advocate that what occurs in the privacy of bedrooms inhabited by adults be subjected to public derision. But the reality is that such unions exist in our midst and a national conversation at some stage will be required to look at every aspect of same-sex relationships especially where those engaged in such unions are subjected to discrimination at various levels of society.
Buggery laws, we believe, should remain on our statute books, not necessarily to deter, prosecute or punish males involved in same-sex relationships, but mainly as an acknowledgement that related non-consensual sexual acts occur in our society. Ironically, while consensual intercourse between males, if observed by law officers, could lead to their criminal prosecution, consensual intercourse between females presents no such fear.
Any national conversation on the matter must consider the rights of individuals to be irreligious. Should society mandate that its citizens follow any religious dogma? Should those citizens be subjected to punishment because of their rejection of such dogma and its dicates on sexual behaviour between consenting adults?
Barbados must also face the reality that many of its citizens are leaving this jurisdiction for destinations such as the United States and the United Kingdom and entering into legal same-sex marriages or civil unions. Of course, while our laws do not cater for such legal arrangements, how does the state and civil society treat to the rights of such individuals when they return to this jurisdiction? Do we expose ourselves to international sanctions or censure if such returning nationals are met with discriminatory response and a denial of certain rights?
At the end of the day, the discussion must be brought fom the back rooms and closets out into the open. Homosexual behaviour has been around for centuries. It survived the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. It has survived all of man’s brimstone and fire. We must accept that it will not simply go away. And some will argue, why should it?