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|Sex and the law|
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Adultery · Buggery
|Sexuality · Criminal justice · Law|
The British English term buggery is very close in meaning to the term sodomy, and is often used interchangeably in law and popular speech. It was also a specific criminal offence under the English common law.
Under most common law legal systems, the term buggery refers to a criminal offence and has a specific legal meaning. In English law, "buggery" was first used in the Buggery Act 1533, while Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, entitled "Sodomy and Bestiality", defined punishments for "the abominable Crime of Buggery, committed either with Mankind or with any Animal". Neither Act defined what constituted buggery. Over the years the courts have defined buggery as including either:
- anal intercourse by a man with a man or woman, or
- vaginal intercourse by either a man or a woman with an animal,
At common law consent was not a defence; nor was the fact that the parties were married. In the UK the punishment for buggery was reduced from hanging to life imprisonment by the Offences against the Person Act 1861. As with the crime of rape, buggery required that penetration must have occurred, but ejaculation is not necessary.
Most common law jurisdictions have now modified the law to permit anal sex between consenting adults. Hong Kong did so retroactively in 1990, barring prosecution for "crimes against nature" committed before the Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance 1990 entered into force except those that would still have constituted a crime if they had been done thereafter. In the United Kingdom, heterosexual buggery was decriminalised in 1969.
In the Republic of Ireland, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 abolished the offence of "buggery between persons". For some years prior to 1993, criminal prosecution had not been made for buggery between consenting adults. The 1993 Act created an offence of "buggery with a person under the age of 17 years", penalised similar to statutory rape, which also had 17 years as the age of consent. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 replaced this offence with "defilement of a child", encompassing both "sexual intercourse" and "buggery".
The word bugger and buggery are still commonly used in modern English as a mild exclamation, and "buggery" is also synonymous with anal sex.
The word "bugger" was derived, via the French "bougre", from "Bulgar", that is, "Bulgarian", meaning the medieval Bulgarian heretical sect of the Bogomils, which spread into Western Europe and was claimed by the established church to be devoted to the practice of sodomy. "Buggery" first appears in English in 1330, though "bugger" in a sexual sense is not recorded until 1555.
- ↑ R v Wiseman (1718) Fortes Rep 91.
- ↑ R v Bourne (1952) 36 Cr App R 135; Sir Edward Coke also reports "... a great lady had committed buggery with a baboon and conceived by it..." at 3 Inst 59.
- ↑ R v Jacobs (1817) Russ & Ry 331.
- ↑ The implication being that anal sex with an animal would not constitute buggery. Such a case has not, to date, come before the courts of a common law jurisdiction in any reported decision. However, it seems highly improbable that a person would be exculpated of a crime associated with sex with animals only by reason of the fact that penetration involved the anus rather than the vagina. It is illegal for any male to have intercourse using any body part aka foot elbow etc
- ↑ Because consent was not required, heavier penalties require proof of lack of consent – see R v Sandhu  Crim LR 288; R v Davies  1 Cr App Rep (S) 252.
- ↑ R v Jellyman (1838) 8 C&P 604.
- ↑ R v Reekspear (1832) 1 Mood CC 342; R v Cozins (1834) 6 C&P 351; Offences Against The Person Act 1861 §63.
- ↑ For example, in the United Kingdom homosexual anal sex was legalized under the Sexual Offences Act 1967. Heterosexual anal sex was not subsequently decriminalized until the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
- ↑ Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993; §2: Abolition of offence of buggery between persons. Irish Statute Book.
- ↑ Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993; §3: Buggery of persons under 17 years of age. Irish Statute Book.
- ↑ Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 §§1,2,3 and Schedule. Irish Statute Book.
- ↑ Erin McKean, ed. (2005). New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517077-6.
- ↑ OED 1st edn.
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- Smith & Hogan, Criminal Law (10th ed), ISBN 0 406 94801 1