In some countries, it’s still a taboo. Opinions may vary between acceptable, merely tolerable, unnatural, or perverse. In some countries and cultures though, it seems to me that being gay is almost seen as cool or fashionable! As with everything else, everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, nobody is entitled to hurt or discriminate others based on their own personal opinion.
Genetics and Evolution
Why has homosexuality been such a taboo throughout human history? My non-expert opinion is that there is a natural general aversion to homosexuality in non-gay people, which you would expect from an evolutionary point of view. Natural selection would tend to favour heterosexuality, but homosexuals can still reproduce and pass this sexual preference on. As long as there would be some advantage to it, even historically, the potential for it would exist. Also, Richard Dawkins’ preferred explanation of homosexuality is that the genes in humans for it have a “homosexual” manifestation under certain genetic conditions. In other words, perhaps the gene that results in homosexual preferences didn’t always have that effect.
To use an example, (which is strictly for illustrative purposes only), he said to imagine a gene that can result in homosexuality under the condition of bottle feeding a baby. Under normal circumstances that gene would either do something else or nothing at all, but bottle feeding ‘activates’ it and produces a different result. (The resulting physical manifestation of genetic makeup is called the phenotype.)
Whatever the origin of homosexuality in humans, it appears to have existed for as long as history can tell. It is also present in the animal kingdom too. Since the tendency towards it is almost certainly genetic, and ubiquitous in the mammalia class of chordata, it is foolish to call homosexuality ‘unnatural’. The attraction to members of the same sex comes naturally to gay people. To call it a “lifestyle choice” is not only extremely arrogant and condescending, it is profoundly ignorant.
Hundreds of thousands of people throughout history have been the target of humiliation, abuse, and murder because of their sexual preference. They were true to themselves and their feelings. To suggest they “chose” to be gay and suffer needlessly is laughable.
Furthermore, whether something is natural or not has absolutely no bearing on it being right or wrong. From The Skeptic’s Dictionary:
Fleas on dogs are natural. Flea collars are unnatural. Mosquitoes and flies are natural, though most people find them to be a nuisance and prefer the unnatural comfort of mosquitoeless nights and flyless barbecues. Eating meat might be a natural act, but eating cooked meat is unnatural. Most sauces put on meat are made with both natural and artificial ingredients. Salt is natural, but some healthy people avoid salt like the plague.
Civilization is unnatural. Indoor plumbing is unnatural. Corrective lenses are unnatural. So are automobiles.
To have a broken arm set by a physician is unnatural. To let it heal spontaneously would be natural, even if debilitating for life. Getting a medical degree is unnatural. Foraging and experimenting by trial and error would be natural, even if often lethal. Children born with no brains or other monstrous deformities are natural. Brain surgery to remove a tumor is unnatural.
Monogamy is natural among some mammals, but unnatural for most mammals. Reproduction is natural but marriage is unnatural. Using condoms is unnatural. Dying of AIDS is to die of natural causes. Herpes is natural. Raping women is natural to some men, but it is usually regarded as evil nonetheless. Pedophilia seems to be natural in some people, but does that make it good?
The Argument from Nature for or against homosexuality is fallacious.
Like many fears and aversions, religion took those of homosexuality and ostracised them to a place of ignominy and perversion. In the Old Testament for example, a man who raped a woman was put to death if he was discovered and if she’d obviously struggled. If she didn’t cry loud enough to try and alert others though, she was also put to death. On the other hand, two men who consented to sleep together were executed on the spot. Throughout the bible, homosexuality is put in the same category as bestiality, incest, lying, stealing, murdering, and other detestable sins before god.
No doubt this is due to religion’s psychopathic desire to control every aspect of human life, but I also believe it undoubtedly owes much to the chauvinistic patriarchal societies from which all three major monotheistic religions arose. The act of penetration is seen as submitting someone before you; the woman was the property of the man so this was correct. But for a man to ‘dominate’ another man was seen as detestable, because men cannot be owned like women could.
To the ignorant, homosexuality is probably a grey area, which makes it perfect for those people who don’t like to think for themselves, and have difficult answers spoon-fed to them: “what’s the deal with gay people?” Answer: “Wrong. Sinful.”
Finally, given the nature of homosexuality in humans and mammals, if you believe in creation then clearly gay people are a serious design flaw.
Since the arguments from nature and religion are spurious and ignorant, what about the moral arguments?
In short, there is no sound moral argument against homosexuality. Crimes have victims, and we judge people based on actions not desires. One sexual desire is the same as another. For straight people, heterosexuality comes natural. For gay people, homosexuality comes natural. For paedophiles, attraction to children comes naturally. We don’t lock two straight kids up for underage sex if they haven’t had it! So it’s irrational to punish anyone for an action they haven’t committed, regardless of their sexual preference. The reason paedophilia is wrong is because it harms children. Incest also can be harmful, just as bestiality is. But homosexuality between two consenting adults harms no one.
If something makes people happy and no one gets hurt, can you think of any possible reason why it is wrong?
Hatred of homosexuality is almost as superstitious as hatred of the Boogie Man or the Devil. It’s like racism and other forms of prejudice because it discriminates against innocent people based on things they cannot control, and shouldn’t even try to!