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|Sex and the law|
(May vary according to jurisdiction)
Adultery · Buggery · Child grooming
|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 may also be a specific common law offence, encompassing both sodomy and bestiality.
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". The definition of "buggery" was not specified in these or any statute, but rather established by judicial precedent. Over the years the courts have defined buggery as including either:
but not any other form of "unnatural intercourse". 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.
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 England and Wales, homosexual buggery was decriminalised in 1967 with a higher age of consent. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 fully removed buggery as a concept in British law, introducing an equal age of consent and not differentiating between vaginal and anal sex.
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 act of buggery by way of bestiality is still unlawful under Section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. In 2011 a man was prosecuted under this Section, after a woman died as the result of an allergic reaction after having intercourse with his dog.
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.
|This article relies on references to primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject. (March 2011)|
|Look up buggery in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|