Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2022. 1:38 pm CST.
By Benjamin Flowers: The Caribbean Court of Justice, the highest appellate jurisdiction court in the region, has ruled that men can be charged for raping other men.
The CCJ handed down a judgment this week in the Barbados-based case of Commissioner of Police v Stephen Alleyne , where the respondent was initially charged with having sex with another man without his consent. The case was dismissed at the Magistrate level, after the sitting magistrate determined that the Sexual Offences Act did not cover anal sex between men.
Justice Denys Barrow, in his judgment, ruled found that the Act uses gender-neutral language to identify both perpetrator and victim and extends the definition of rape to include anal penetration. The Court found that considering the literal meaning of the words used in the Act, their context, and comparable legislation, any person; male or female, can be the offender or victim of rape.
In a separate judgment, Justice Peter Jamadar, supported Justice Barrow’s sentiment and found that when judges are interpreting legislation, they must also respect the fundamental rights in the Constitution and consider a state’s international treaty commitments.
“A gender-neutral interpretation of the Act respects the right to protection of the law regardless of sex, and the prohibition against discriminatory laws under the Constitution. It also respects Barbados’ international law commitments to ensure equality before the law regardless of gender and the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms without restrictions based on sex,” the CCJ said in a case brief yesterday, following the decision.
There was a dissenting judgment, Justice Andrew Burgess, who said that the Act does not create the offence of rape of a man by another man, that rape can only be committed by a man and only against a woman, and that he would have dismissed the appeal.
While the judgment advances the legal system in Barbados, Belize’s Sexual Offences Act was amended in 2014 to allow for males and females to be victims of rape and for the violations to include vaginal, oral, and anal penetration without consent.
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