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Repealing buggery laws does not make anal penetration right, justifiable or affordable for a small island developing state like ours. I believe the buggery laws should remain as a deterrent.
Whatever your views on buggery, we must never forget that anal penetration is a serious health risk that carries a financial cost, whether it is male-on-male, male-on-female, consensual or non-consensual.
The anus is not a sex organ; it is part of the digestive system. Of all sexual practices, anal penetration is the most risky for HIV transmission.
This is due to the concentration of staphylococcus bacteria in the anal region and the tightness and poor lubrication of the rectal lining. The rectum is also high-risk for other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, intestinal parasites and hepatitis. Eventually, most older homosexual men lose the normal use of the anal sphincter and become incontinent.
In Barbados, anti-retroviral therapy is free to persons living with HIV, but carries a recurrent monthly cost to Government for each patient on treatment. Treatment for opportunistic infections can be even more costly.
Not only is anal penetration a private health risk that carries a public cost, but race is also a consideration.
According to the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), in 2016, among men who have sex with men (MSM), HIV infection was highest among Afro-Americans, followed by Hispanics/Latinos, Whites and other races. Simply put, statistics suggest that in comparison to other races, due to a multiplicity of presumed factors, Blacks – at least in the United States – are significantly more vulnerable to HIV transmission via anal penetration. I am unsure whether any study has investigated the race factor beyond the US, but until we have all the facts, we should be guided by caution.
It should be noted that 90 per cent of male homosexuals engage in the practice of anal penetration.
Is there any wonder why the Caribbean and African countries, both with significant black populations, should keep their buggery laws? Is there any good economic reason why these Commonwealth countries should decriminalise buggery?
It is not rocket science. In a Caribbean where HIV/AIDS and STIs are already harming the productive sector, it is irrational to remove legal restrictions on a behaviour that has proved injurious to the individual and can have grim implications for the work force.
In a small island developing state with few natural resources, one man lost through preventable illness is one too many.
Laws make a tacit statement about what is beneficial, unprofitable or downright harmful with regard to the proper functioning of society.
In seeking to decriminalise buggery we may also be legislating mortality. Let us be wise enough to protect our precious human capital.
Keep buggery on the law books.
– Dr Veronica Evelyn (Sociologist)