by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): In a judgment released yesterday (February 1), the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) found that in Barbados, the law permits a man to be charged for the rape of another man.
On August 2, 2015, the police alleged that Stephen Alleyne had non-consensual sexual intercourse with another man. Alleyne was charged with the offence of rape contrary to the Sexual Offences Act.
In the local courts, the magistrate ruled that the crime of rape did not extend to intercourse between men. The Court of Appeal in Barbados upheld that decision on appeal.
As of yesterday, in a 6-1 majority decision delivered by Justice Denys Barrow, the CCJ found that “on a correct interpretation of Section 3(1) of the Sexual Offences Act, a man can be charged for the rape of another man” in Barbados.
In the release from the CCJ, it explained that “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.”
“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.”
However, one Justice had a differing opinion.
Justice Burgess found that the Act does not create an offence of rape of a male by another male and would have dismissed the appeal.
Under the common law, only a man could commit rape and only against a woman. The Act does not purport to do anything as revolutionary as changing the common law to create an offence of rape by a male of another male, said Justice Burgess.
Justice Burgess said that Parliament in Barbados would have to express that intention in unambiguous language for such an interpretation of the law to be made.
The Court’s full judgment is available on https://ccj.org/judgments-proceedings/appellate-jurisdiction-judgments/.