THIS country’s sodomy laws have not been struck down entirely, but have been amended to make consensual sex in same-sex unions legal.
Justice Devindra Rampersad today gave his final ruling in the landmark ruling of Jason Jones who successfully challenged certain sections of the Sexual Offences Act.
In April, Rampersad ruled that sections 13 and 16 of the act, which criminalised sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex, was unconstitutional.
He did not immediately strike down the sections, but invited further submissions on the issue.
He gave his ruling today, and also refused to grant a stay of execution of the declarations he granted so that the State can appeal his decision, which it still intends to do.
Rampersad had been asked by Jason Jones – a Trinidad-born openly gay man – to determine whether the State had the constitutional authority to criminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations.
In his decision, he said the court was of the respectful view that the most “non-intrusive manner” in which to resolve the issue of criminalising consensual same-sex relations, would be to modify the sections.
The section 13 inserts the words “without consent” and will now be read as: “13. (1) A person who commits the offence of buggery is liable on conviction to imprisonment for twenty-five years. (2) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse “without consent” per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person with a female person.”
Section 16, deletes the words “a male person and a female person” and is replaced by “persons” and will now be read as: “(1) A person who commits an act of serious indecency on or towards another is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of serious indecency committed in private between—
(a) a husband and his wife; (b) “persons” each of whom is sixteen years of age or more, both of
whom consent to the commission of the act; or (c) persons to whom section 20(1) and (2) and (3) of the Children Act apply. (3) An act of “serious indecency” is an act, other than
sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.
Jones was not in court when the ruling was delivered.