Catholic deacon/sociologist Peter Espeut and lawyer/activist Maurice Tomlinson debate the merits of LGBTQI rights in this latest installment of their ongoing dispute.
Fake news and the gay agenda
Commentary by Peter Espeut
Published in the Gleaner on May 4, 2018
Why won’t LGBTQI activists debate their agenda in an intelligent logical manner? Every time someone challenges their standpoints, they respond with personal attacks, verbal abuse, and name-calling.
M.K. Mukulu calls me a bigot (Gleaner, April 28, 2018), while Maurice Tomlinson’s column (Gleaner, May 2, 2018) asks, ‘Why is Peter Espeut so anal?’ Considering Tomlinson’s orientation, I fear that readers might view the headline, which wasn’t his, as an expression of endearment!
It is clear to me that LGBTQI activists can’t debate because their positions are based on fake news and shoddy logic. I am going to outline some of their arguments as I understand them, with my critique, and I challenge all comers to rebuttal.
1. Gay people are born that way, just like some people are born with black skin. Therefore, being gay is normal and natural, and should not be criminalised.” Fake news!
To successfully argue that gay people are born that way, you would have to show a genetic origin for homosexuality. Over many years, scientists have been searching frantically for the gay gene, to no avail. The phenomenon of epigenetics won’t help, for that posits environmental causes for gay behaviour, rather than a genetic source.
2. Being gay is not a choice, therefore gay people must have been born that way. Who would choose to be gay in Jamaica, knowing the anti-gay position of most Jamaicans? Fake news and shoddy logic!
The claim that it is either ‘choice’ or ‘birth’ is a false dichotomy; there are other more reasonable options. The one I support is that LGBTQI persons are socialised into their same-sex attractions by their domestic environment; just as in some countries, residents feel it is ‘normal’ to eat snails, lizards and ants because of socialisation, gay persons are socialised to feel that same-sex attraction is ‘normal’. The scientific literature supports this view.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
3. Having a buggery law breaches my constitutional right to privacy. The Government must not be peeping into people’s bedrooms. People must be free to do what they wish in the privacy of their bedrooms. Fake news and shoddy logic!
The right to privacy does not mean that people are free to do what they wish in the privacy of their bedrooms.
Lotto scammers cannot do their thing in the privacy of their bedrooms, nor can paedophiles or rapists.
The constitutional right to privacy protects people against unreasonable searches, and against extrajudicial seizure of their property.
Gay people have the same right to privacy as everyone else in Jamaica.
Anyone who claims that the buggery law breaches their right to privacy is either legally illiterate or dishonest. Yet this catchy but meaningless slogan is a favourite of gay advocates, like the editor of this newspaper.
RIGHT TO EQUALITY
4. Having a buggery law breaches my constitutional right to equality before the law. Heterosexuals have the right to have sex their way, so we homosexuals must have the right to have sex our way. That is equality before the law. Fake news and shoddy logic!
The constitutional right to equality before the law is the principle that each human being is subject to the same laws of justice.
Gay people are subject to the same laws and due process as everyone else in Jamaican society. Gay activists want it to mean that all types of sex must be legally identical, which again is legal illiteracy.
I challenge Tomlinson, Mukulu and anyone else to engage me in debate on the above issues. Don’t talk about the Catholic Church and paedophile priests, or call me a bigot; that’s obfuscation.
Peter Espeut is a sociologist and Roman Catholic deacon. Email feedback to email@example.com.
Rebuttal: Peter’s own fake news, plus ignorant claims
By Maurice Tomlinson
I welcome Peter Espeut’s invitation to debate his views on homosexuality (“Fake News and the Gay Agenda”). But first, I must correct some of his own “fake news”.
1) As Peter himself admits I did not launch a personal attack against him in my recent article as the headline was not mine. Further, nowhere in my piece do I insult him so, he should stop playing victim.
2) It is preposterous for Peter to insinuate that as a gay man I might be attracted to him. Not only am I happily married but Peter reduces everything about homosexuality to sex. This is “fake news” to use his term, or phenomenological reduction in philosophy. Sexual orientation is a combination of multiple factors, including romantic, emotional, and yes physical attraction. I can assure Peter that neither of these apply to my interaction or assessment of him.
3) I find it disingenuous for Peter to distance his discourse on homosexuality from the Catholic church when it was precisely as a Catholic deacon that he and others sought to insert themselves into the first case challenging the anti-buggery law. His Catholic faith clearly informs his views on homosexuality. And why is everything in the life of a gay person fair game but the Catholic church is suddenly off limits?
As for Peter’s other claims, I will deal with them seriatim (that’s legal speak for “point by point”):
GENETICS / CHOICE
The debate about whether gays are born or socialized is largely irrelevant to the question of protecting their rights. Even if sexual orientation were purely a choice, so is Peter’s religion. And our Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms protects Peter’s faith even though it has directly contributed to some of the worst human rights atrocities, including the Spanish Inquisition, slavery, and the decimation of native Americans. Regardless of Peter’s views on how homosexuals come to be, as the President of our Constitutional Court opined in Tomlinson v TVJ, homosexuals like all Jamaicans are entitled to equal protection under the law.
RIGHT TO EQUALITY
Peter demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the law when he claims that the anti-sodomy statute affects all Jamaicans equally. Not only does s. 77 of the Offences Against the Person Act solely target gay intimacy, but the rest of the supposedly neutral sections (sections 76 and 79) disproportionately and deliberately affect gays. This was specifically the historical intent of the law as stated by its drafters in 1864. In any event, discrimination law looks at effect, not intent. To summarize Justice Sandra Day O’connor in the US Supreme Court case of Lawrence v Texas that decriminalized sodomy in that country, when a law criminalizes a conduct that defines a class the result is to criminalize that class. So, a supposedly “neutral” law against Sunday work could be deemed to discriminate against non-Christians and Adventists who worship on other days but see Sunday as a regular work-day.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Finally, the conflation of homosexuality with criminal activity is a red herring often resorted to by those desperate to demonize gay intimacy because they find it “icky”. It is a shameful tactic and since Peter doesn’t appreciate cheap pot-shots against his church he shouldn’t throw them against gays. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Otherwise, it is too easy to equate the Catholic faith with all manners of perversion. As has been repeated by legal scholars and jurists for centuries, the role of the law is to protect society from harm. Therefore, criminalizing the private intimacy of consenting adults is only justifiable if it serves some overriding societal purpose.
Criminalizing private consensual intimacy has been repeatedly shown to do the opposite. For example, Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law has not prevented us from having the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the western hemisphere, if not the world, 33%. On the contrary, the law has been proven to contribute to this dreadful statistic by driving MSM underground, away from effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support interventions. And before Peter claims that gay intimacy is always physically harmful, I wish to point out that he again speaks from lack of knowledge. Or does he?
Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican/Canadian attorney and activist.