My Oh My

Homosexuality.

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.)

Nature

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.

Religion

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.

Morality

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!

11 Responses to “My Oh My”

  1. jonolan Says:

    Everyone has the right to judge others based on their own personal opinion. What they don’t have the right to do is harm others without expecting and accepting negative consequences.

    “Judge not lest ye be judged” does not preclude judgement, just judgement without consequence.

    As for homosexuals, I’m not sure why there’s such a widespread problem with them. It may well be as hardwired as the homosexuality itself.

  2. evanescent Says:

    Hi Jonolan

    Thanks for the comment.

    What I meant about “judging based on personal opinion” was that people should not condemn someone, or decide that they’re good or bad. But in hindsight, this is rather ambiguous reasoning and I agree with your correction. (I might amend the article above, but will of course leave this record here and cite you).

    As for problems with homosexuality, I believe it is probably hardwired too, for evolutionary reasons.

    It also seems to be the case that humans distrust, dislike, and fear what they don’t understand. Humans, historically, have been intolerant of differences, and the more “unconventional” the worse. It takes an evolved rational sensibility to accept the differences in people, even if we don’t understand them.

  3. Darren Says:

    I remember when I was young, up to my teens, I considered homosexuality to be unnatural and therefore “wrong”. Not for any religious reasons, I might add (I’ve never been religious), I just concluded that it serves no purpose and must be a fault.

    I no longer believe that, I’m glad to say. It’s completely harmless and consensual, so live and let live.

    My point is that homosexuality does initially appear to be unnatural, and that it’s too easy for the unenlightened to equate “unnatural” with “wrong”. That attitude, coupled with fear, seems to have been codified into the law of the bible and passed down through the generations. It will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the very devout to let go of that, I think.

  4. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    Yes, I agree with Darren. On first blush, homosexuality appears to be unnatural, but only from the viewpoint of heterosexuals. When something like 10% of the population is homosexual, it’s hard to maintain that it is “unnatural”.

    30 million American homosexuals are unnatural? Using that logic, the 2% of redheads in America, all 6 million of them, should not be allowed to marry. We should also pass laws discriminating against them, and if we find them alone at night, perhaps even tie them to a fence and beat them to death.

  5. jonolan Says:

    Inquisitor,

    We used to discriminate rather harshly against redheads. Redheads are / were presumed Irish and “Irish need apply” and the term “paddywagon” come easily to mind as examples.

    Essentially every minority group, no matter how small the difference, is discriminated against until such time as integration, boredom, or the advent of another minority causes them to join “the mainstream”.

  6. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    Jonolan

    I agree, although I don’t think the redheads were discriminated against because their hair color was deemed unnatural. It was because they were Irish. It was their country of origin that made them different (not to mention they competed with other for jobs). Their names and brogues gave them away, hair color less so. There were black haired blue eyed Irish.

  7. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    Oh. And the site I found the 2% redhead info also indicated that only 10% of the Irish were redheads.

  8. tribal Says:

    The natural world has many methods of controlling organism populations, in many species homosexuality is probably just one such method, along with infertility, disease, war or conflict, specific dietary requirements, long gestation times or infrequent ovulation. Such controls are a necessity in maintaining any healthy population to prevent numbers spiraling beyond a sustainable level. It is often theorized that homosexual individuals are not redundant ‘dead ends’, In social mammals, the ‘Gay uncle or Aunt’ offers another protective adult who has the infant’s wellbeing held in high regard and thus gives the infant an added ‘edge’ in the evolutionary and social environment.
    Religion is a very recent man made concept, natural order was there long before and will be around long after religion fades into the sands of time.

  9. Spanish Inquisitor Says:

    Nice point, tribal.

    I had not thought of it that way.

  10. jonolan Says:

    Tribal,

    You may well be right, though I doubt any definitive studies will ever be done and accepted. What studies we have are mostly based on rats (!). In rat colonies the rate homosexuality does increase as population pressures increase, as do many other behaviors that are generally considered counter-survival.

    I’m not sure of the validity of the studies since primates would have been better subjects for modelling human behavior, but it does point towards you’re being right.

  11. The Obsession With Non-Belief « evanescent Says:

    […] they weren’t so long ago, and they’re actually still present in many parts of the world, when private actions that don’t even hurt anyone were considered crimes, but that is not my concern in this article.  […]


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