By Vexen Crabtree 2013
Homosexuality is thoroughly natural. It occurs in a massive range of animal species, including humans, so appears to be part of the genetic makeup of life in general. The colourful and varied ways that wild animal species find to express intentional same-sex sexuality with other is surprising and sometimes ingenious, like the male dolphins who penetrate each other's blowholes. Biological causes of homosexuality have been found in Human beings. All this points to the fact that homosexuality is a part of the design of nature. If nature was designed by God, then watching Bonobo Apes for a while is convincing proof that God certainly does not mind gay sex! But explicit homosexuality in most cultures has faced a prolonged period of general dislike, outright oppression, arbitrary criminality and mass-misunderstandings. Dishearteningly, even the World Health Organization categorized homosexuality as a mental illness until 19921. Homosexuals still are, persecuted by religious bodies throughout the world (who are by far the greatest and most bitter enemies of LGBT tolerance). They are discriminated against by Christian and Muslim organisations in Western countries, and imprisoned and criminalized in others. Thankfully modern religions such as Paganism and the New Age are accepting, as is the rest of society in general.
“In his 1980 book Homosexual Behaviour: A Modern Reappraisal, psychiatrist Judd Marmor states that homosexuality is far from being "unnatural" in the statistical sense. It occurs in all higher species, even when members of the opposite sex are present and presumably available for mating.”
When it comes to the studying of homosexuality in nature the most prodigal studies have to be those collated by Bruce Bagemihl in his book "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity3" (1999). Quite rightly it describes itself as "the book that definitely crushes the argument that homosexuality is not natural". Homosexuality is widespread in nature. To say that it is "unnatural" is to say that the stars don't shine!
“Male gorillas court and couple with each other, grizzly bear families have two mothers, male swans form pair-bonds with one another and female long-eared hedgehogs have oral sex. In this book homosexual behaviour is documented in over 450 species of animals.
In the dimly lit undergrowth of a Central American rain forest, jewel-like male hummingbirds flit through the vegetation, pausing briefly to mate now with a male, now with a female. A whale glides through the dark and icy waters of the Arctic [...] her fins and tail caressing another female. Drifting off to sleep, two male monkeys lie gently in each other's arms [in] the ancient jungles of Asia. [...] In a protected New Zealand inlet, a pair of female gulls - mated for life - tend their chicks together. Tiny midges swarm above a bleak tundra of Northern Europe, a whirlwind of mating activity, as males couple with each other in mid-air. Circling and prancing around her partner, a female antelope courts another female in an ageless, elegant ritual staged on the African Savanna. [...]
The world is, indeed, teeming with homosexual, bisexual and transgendered creatures of every stripe and feather.
More than 130 different bird species worldwide are literally queer.
Species include primates, marine mammals, hoofed mammals, carnivores, marsupials, rodents and insectivores, waterfowl & other aquatic birds, wading birds, shore birds, perching birds and Songbirds and other birds, on every continent and ocean. All observed in the wild, not including any zoo observations.”
"Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity" by Bruce Bagemihl (1999)4
The percent of homosexual behaviour ranges in species from 90% to under 1%. Sometimes almost entire collections are found to be gay, entire troops of Bonobo apes and up to 94% of some populations of Giraffes. All this in nature, not in zoos or in experiments. Of all the species that have been observed to produce gay members, the ratio of gay sexual encounters can be calculated. "Combining these [...] yields a figure of just over 20%: roughly one-fifth of all interactions, on average, are homosexual in mammal and bird species that have [some] form of [sexual same-sex behaviour]"5.
Inside zoos, the same story repeats itself. The Metro newspaper, 2005 Feb 14 (Mon), reported on a case hitting the papers that month. "Bosses at Bremerhaven Zoo in Germany discovered most of its male penguins were in same-sex relationships and not producing offspring, despite there being adequate females present.". But many people discount statistics gathered in zoos because they say that the unnatural circumstances cause animals to be gay, which is what sociologists call "situational homosexuality" in Human beings, such as occurs in prisons, single sex boarding schools, etc. This is why Bagemihl stresses the importance that all his research comes from animals in natural habitats.
To summarize, I refer to the newly opened exhibition "Against Nature?" at the University of Oslo:
“The National History Museum at the University of Oslo has just opened an exhibition of gay animals. Homosexuality has been recorded in some 1500 species so far, and been well documented in about a third of these cases; it has been known since the time of Aristotle, who thought he witnessed two male hyenas having sex with one another. Aside from illustrating homosexuality among an extraordinary variety of creatures, the exhibition shows how sexual stimulation can vary when, at first blush, the mechanical details of how this might work are not obvious to people attempting to draw analogies from their own anatomy. Male Amazonian river dolphins, for example, penetrate the blowholes of other males; female bottlenose dolphins use their snouts as dildos on other females.
Why this behaviour might be favoured by natural selection, though, is a difficult question to answer. In an attempt to do so, the exhibition picks on gay flamingos. Two males raising a chick after one of them had a one-night stand (of sorts) with a female are able to hold a larger territory than male-female partnerships. This suggests a chick with two dads could get more food and therefore have a better chance of survival. [...] One [theory] is that homosexuals assist in the upbringing of their relatives so much that they pass on more of their genes this way than by having children themselves.”
|Most Equal (2017)8|
|Pos.||Higher is better|
|Most Discriminatory (2017)8|
|Pos.||Lower is worse|
Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence9. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries9. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.
“Many animal species share a common set of sexualities: heterosexuals, homosexuals and plenty of dysfunctionals, plus lots of situation-dependent behaviour. Monogamy, polygamy, polyandry and all those other social combinations of the basic sexualities are also present throughout the animal world (including Humanity of course). But although this may look like enough diversity, there is more, because all of these are variants of bi-gender behaviour alone. Throughout half of the history of life on Earth, living things reproduced asexually, through simple duplicative division, in a variety of ways. The ancient single-celled animal Tetrahymena thermophilia manages a total of seven different sexes10. Sexual diversity, like the rest of living complexity11, had to undergo a slow process of evolution, proceeding first through isogamy where there are no genders. All this should put human wranglings about the sanctity of the nuclear family, or arguments about what sexualities are 'normal' into perspective, because truly everything is natural in nature. We have to work out simply how to live in peace with the realities of sexual diversity in our own species.”
There are various theories, each supported by some evidence, as to what the relationship is between the incidence of homosexuality and evolution. The instinctive question that researchers have been concerned with since the time of Darwin12 is: why is homosexuality not curbed genetically, given that heterosexuality is (surely) a more successful evolutionary strategy for any bi-gendered animal?
Studies of identical twins are essential in investigating human traits. Because such twins share identical genes, we know that all resultant personality differences are due to non-genetic factors. The "concordance rate" of a trait between twins tells us to what extent the trait is genetically caused. Studies on identical twins have found, as is always the case, different concordance rates.
“Born Gay by Dr Glenn Wilson of the Institute of Psychiatry and Dr Qazi Rachman of the University of East London [...] summarizes the latest research into the psychobiology of sex orientation, concluding that studies with twins show that around 30 to 50 per cent of sexual orientation is due to genes. The rest is the result of processes in the womb. [...] According to the researchers, there is much evidence to contradict claims that homosexuality is caused by social factors, such as seduction, or that it can be learnt.”
The Independent on Sunday (2005)13
The Economist (2008) reported on a study that found a 50% concordance rate14. If one of a pair of people with identical genes is gay, there is a massively increased chance that the other will be (50% chance), even if they are separated at birth and raised by different families. Other studies have only found a low 20% concordance rate12, however, there are a number of non-genetic developmental factors that act on a fetus that are also theorized to cause homosexuality. As a result of these, "Jerome Goldstein, director of the San Francisco Clinical Centre, addressing 3,000 neurologists at the 21st meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon" in 2011 May confirmed that sexual orientation "is primarily neurobiological at birth"15.
Although not common in the UK, discredited and wrong ideas that homosexuality can be 'cured' have wide support in the USA. The Royal College of Psychiatrists, a widely respected authority, issued a statement as recently as 2010 Feb reiterating "that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disorder. [...] There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish''15.
Some brain structures of homosexual men (the amygdala and the interstitial nuclei) resemble those of homosexual women, and some structures of homosexual women resembled those of heterosexual men. Other neurological cross-sex similarities have been found. These, combined with twin studies, confirm that the basis of homosexuality is beyond any active social training.15
Why does homosexuality persist from generation to generation over long time periods? Most research has focused almost solely on humanity but the same question could also be answered by studying other social animals who have known rates of homosexuality within their populations. The preponderance of homosexuality in some family trees, according to LeVay (2011), is one reason why we should favour genetic theories of homosexuality. Here are some of them:
Kin Selection: Homosexual genes are propagated by their non-gay family members. The reason why families with a tendency to sometimes produce gay offspring are not slowly outperformed in the genetic pool is because the gay members lend effective support to their families as a whole, thus indirectly spreading 'gay' genes16. However, others are skeptical.
“To satisfy the kin selection hypothesis, each gay must account for the survival of at least two sibling-born children for every one he fails to produce - no doubt, a difficult benchmark to attain. In any event, relevant studies in the United States and United Kingdom have so far failed to provide such evidence.”
Although Krauss above does say for every one he fails to produce, it is worth emphasizing that homosexuality does not imply infertility and that a portion of homosexuals do produce children and thus preserve their genes, meaning that the required statistics is less than 2 supported siblings per gay individual. But how far less would be a difficult thing to calculate, and would require an in-depth worldwide anthropological survey of homosexuality and the position of homosexuality in each society/culture.
Fertile Female Hypothesis: "A genetic tendency toward androphilia, or attraction to males - though problematic for men from an evolutionary perspective - is thought to enhance the reproductive success of their straight, opposite-sex relatives by rendering them hypersexual. [...] At least two studies have claimed results in support of the fertile female model, which some researchers find appealing for a second reason. It is also capable of explaining why homosexuality persists at a constant but low frequency of no more than 8 percent in the general global population"12.
Feminizing Genes: "The inheritance of a limited number of these genes, LeVay suggests, will make males, for instance, more attractive to females - and thus presumably more successful in terms of reproduction - by rendering them less aggressive and more empathetic, for example. [...] A few men in the family tree will inevitably receive "too many" feminizing genes and, as a result, be born gay. Indeed, one Australian study discovered that gender-atypical traits do tend to enhance reproduction"17.
It is of course true that there may be multiple genetic causes of homosexuality and therefore, all of the theories above have some supporting evidence but each fail to explain the bulk of the prevalence of homosexuality. Most researchers have abandoned the idea that homosexuality is a purely genetic issue12 as the evidence points to other influences on the fetus as being important. Despite attempts, no DNA markers have been found for homosexuality (although such an endeavour is difficult and very likely involves complicated polygenic markers17), and, some studies of identical twins have only found only a low 20% concordance rate12, indicating that non-genetic factors are also important.
"It is now fairly well established that prenatal androgen levels have a substantial impact on sexual orientation in both men and women"12. It is already known that a mother's hormones can affect the formation of a variety of mental traits in their fetus - eating habits, alcohol intake and stress levels are examples where non-genetic environmental factors are known to have an impact, sometimes a defining impact, on the later life of the fetus. Sexuality can also be affected "For instance, women suffering from congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) due to elevated levels of prenatal T and other androgens are known to possess gender traits significantly shifted towards masculinity [and] female fetuses more severely affected by CAH [...] are the most likely to experience same-sex attraction later in life"12. Non-genetic factors that cause homosexuality have been formulated into a few different theories.
The cause of this was studied by Dr Bogaert from Brook University in St Catharines, Ontario. He found that men who were brought up with non-biological older brothers were not more likely to be gay. Even if children were adopted from birth, if their mother has had previous boys, the male child is more likely to be gay. There is a solid, biological (yet non-genetic), non-societal cause of homosexuality. "He speculates that, for reasons as yet unknown, a mother's immune system takes note of the number of male offspring and that each succeeding male foetus is subjected to increase levels of antibodies. These somehow affect its development"19. Dr Bogaert calculated that statistically, one gay man in 7 is gay for no other reason than that their mum had previous sons, whether they were raised in the same house, or not.
Epigenetic Expressions: "Epi-marks can be characterized as molecular regulatory switches attached to the backbones of genes that direct how, when, and to what degree genetic instructions are carried out during an organism's development. They are created anew during each generation and are almost always "erased" between generations. But because epi-marks are produced at the embryonic stem cell stage of development - prior to division between soma and germline - they can, in the theory, be transmitted across generations [...] and thus mimic the hereditary effect of genes"12. That certain epi-mark vectors have a particular influence on sexuality is theorized by William Rice et al. (2012). "To summarize, Rice's team argues that differences in the sensitivity of XY and XX fetuses to the same levels of T might be caused by epigenetic mechanisms"12. This theory is in its early stages and LeVay mourns that although it is reasonable and deserves to be tested, it is still "pure speculation" and that the media have massively exaggerated its current importance, and that there is also some evidence specifically against this explanation of homosexuality20.
In conclusion, we appear to have multiple causes of homosexuality, although we do not yet have a complete chain of causal events from genetic, epigenetic, hormonal and developmental through to sexual and social effects. Note that we do not have such a comprehensive understanding for any generic Human personality trait as there are simply too many factors to take account of. What we do know is that all the signs point to genetics and/or developmental (fetal) factors as being the determinants rather than social factors. In other words, homosexuality is biological and not social in origin.
“Abrahamic religions have contributed to the most negative and destructive attitudes towards sexual issues, especially homosexuality. Christian and Islamic communities and organisations are the most vocal assailants on any legal or societal moves towards tolerance and equality. The liberal wings of some of these religions have adapted to the wide (European) acceptance of homosexuality. Many traditional religions reject the scientific, medical and psychological knowledge that we have gained about sexuality and regard homosexuality as "unnatural", a "choice" or a "moral evil". These religions are themselves immoral and evil in their attitude, causing hatred, bigotry, violence and oppression in the name of God. Homosexual communities have become accustomed to the ranting of religious fundamentalists and traditionalists, and this causes a strong anti-religious resentment amongst them.
In the wider religious scene things are much healthier. Eastern history has produced less of the out-and-out violence against homosexuality. New religious movements and Earth religions are largely accepting of homosexuality, as these religions are more in touch with the natural world. Although there are Pagans, Satanists, Wiccans, etc, who do not like homosexuality very few make hateful statement such as those made by Muslim and Christian authorities. Although Judaism does not accept homosexuality in theory, Jews have not made many such hateful comments, but partially this may be because Judaism has not yet fully faced the issues although liberal Jewish groups match liberal Christianity in their tolerance.”
I have documented many of the places in the world where tolerance and equality have been victorious over traditional cultures and religions:
“Prejudices against homosexuality were not always encoded into law, however. In the time before the dark ages, European communities were variously accepting of gay marriage. But the Christian age of faith saw violent intolerance sweep the continent as certain types of marriage were made illegal and transformed into social taboos. People could only marry if it fit the Christian prejudices of what marriage should be. Islam arose also, and held to similar monotheistic patriarchal norms. Thankfully, since the enlightenment, much of the religious damage to marriage has been undone and in many countries adults are free to marry whom they choose. Starting with Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands the 90s saw the beginning of the gay rights movements victories over established prejudice in an increasing number of developed countries. There is not a single case in all these victories where there have not been multiple large and mainstream Christian groups running campaigns to prevent equal rights for gays. The Catholic Church and the vast majority of Christian denominations continue to battle at local and European levels to repeal those rights already attained. The Catholic Church has gained some ground in 1997 in exempting itself from some European gay rights conventions, and the Church of England has also succeeded in partially exempting itself from UK employment anti-discrimination laws with regards to homosexuality. The traditional churches were wrong about slavery and anti-black racism, and they continue to do wrong on the issue of discrimination against homosexuals. Eventually, when enough of their youth have grown up within gay-tolerant society, the Churches will change to embrace homosexual equality as they did to embrace abolitionism and race equality.”
View the page to view a year-by-year summary of attained rights for gay marriage across the world.
Anti-discrimination laws have been passed in the UK (Equality Act 2006) making it illegal for adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex parents. This enforces equality. It will mean that more children are kept out of agencies and are given stable homes. There is no rational reason to find this offensive or wrong, but many try to give worried-sounding excuses to explain their disguised dislike.
Some common and ignorant complaints about gay adoption are iterated below, and countered:
Gay parents will 'make' their children gay. Sociologists have made keen studies of gay parenting in countries where it is more commonplace and where it has been accepted for longer. The children of gay parents are not more likely to be gay than other children.
Children of gay parents will get bullied at school. By this logic, children who wear glasses should be banned from school. Also, so should foreigners, and maybe anyone who isn't the same colour as everyone else. Perhaps the children of tax collectors shouldn't be allowed to school either! This is a ridiculous excuse for bigotry.
It offends some peoples' religious beliefs. Everything offends some religious belief or other... discrimination is wrong, whether or not it is caused by religion, and the government is right to legislate against discrimination, as a democracy's duty is to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and to temper the ignorance of mass rule.
The most vocal opposition of anything that provides equality for gays are always Christians and Muslims. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, backed by the Church of England22 and the Muslim Council of Britain23, have led a campaign to get the government to give exceptions to Catholic Adoption agencies so that they won't have to give equal rights to gay parents. He says that for reasons of conscience and morality, Catholics cannot be made to comply with the law. Tony Blair is rejecting their case, but has given them extra time to "adjust" to the new laws - they won't have to fully comply until the end of 200822. We will discuss the Catholic's pro-discrimination lobby later.
Anti-discrimination laws are passed to protect minorities from prejudice actions. The actions of prejudice, are wrong. Exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, therefore, are also wrong. An exception requires exceptional circumstances. That Catholic authorities don't like gays (and act on that dislike) is exactly what the law wants to stop. That they believe gays shouldn't adopt is also not the issue.
Special religious rights are a travesty of justice and a victory for stupidity. The more special religious rights that exist, the worse society has become and the more democracy is undermined. The most extreme example is the Vatican, where all laws are religious, and there is zero democracy. The government passes laws because it is necessary and because it is for the greater good. The more exceptions there are to those laws, the more democracy is weakened. This seems especially true where religious superstitions replace the rule of law. For example in Islamic states where Sharia law is declared, or during the Dark Ages when Christian superstitions cost many people their lives (not to mention the torture!), society is at its worst. Theocracy is the worst form of government, and special religious rights are exceptional in their ability to uphold discrimination and barbarianism in the face of normal moral legislation. People do not have a right to do anything they wish. Just because something is a persons' religious belief does not give them extra rights to do it.”
The seven Catholic adoption agencies22 account for only 4% of all children placed each year24 in the UK, and their spokesperson has said that they would rather close than allow gay parents to adopt children22. Elsewhere, this is exactly what they have done. Similar legislation has been passed in a number of states in the USA, "with the result that the Catholic Church from Boston to San Francisco has closed down its adoption agencies", especially after the Pope Ratzinger once said that these anti-discrimination laws are "the legalisation of evil"23.
They would rather allow the continued suffering of homeless and abused children (and discriminate against gays, too) - rather than infringe on their own religious beliefs. Their religion is more important to them than the welfare of children. The government is making plans on how to amalgamate their work into other, non-discriminatory agencies, in order to prevent children being harmed by the Church's refusal to entertain equality.
There is an economic contradiction in granting Catholic Adoption Agencies exemption from the Law of the Government... the fact that in part, such agencies are funded by the government:
“Catholic adoption agencies receive public money for their efforts - both directly, in the form of grants, and indirectly through the tax break that any charity receives. If they are exempted from the law, they should also be relieved of subsidies from the taxpayers whose representatives approved it.”
Thankfully, the Government has indeed taken the line emplored by The Economist. At the end of 2007 Jan, Downing Street announced that "Catholic adoption agencies must comply with non-discrimination laws by the end of 2008 or lose all access to public funds, Downing Street said yesterday"22.
“The communities secretary, Ruth Kelly, a devout Catholic, last night hailed the deal as "a positive breakthrough in eliminating discrimination" [and] insisted that despite her faith she supported the right of gay parents to adopt, saying: "We all know that there is a wide range of potential adoptive parents out there, including lesbians and gay men, who can provide a loving home for children." Her critics claim she was arguing for an exemption for the church, but her allies say she was working for the kind of compromise announced yesterday.
The compromise was welcomed by the education secretary, Alan Johnson, a strong opponent of exemption, who said: "This is the right outcome for all concerned because it puts the interests of children first. We reject discrimination in all its forms, particularly when that deprives our most vulnerable children of a stable, loving and secure home."”
The Guardian (2007)22
Prime Minister Tony Blair voiced his opposition of discrimination, and said, "There is no place in our society for discrimination [...] that's why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple. And that way there can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering public-funded services from regulations that prevent discrimination"26.
In some parts of the world you are hated because of the way you were born. In some parts of the world, teachers cannot teach sex education or contraceptive advice because of religious dogma. Thank fate that you are in the UK. Right?
"April Bombings", Simon Fanshawe, 1999, London, UK
"...Of course the first priority was to get the killer, but the real difficulty is to imprison the hatred he unleashed. We all want these kinds of people to be different from us, even mad, definitely evil. But however hard it is you have to accept that the bombing is just the illogical conclusion of everyday prejudice.
Listen to the phones at Stonewall on the Saturday after the bomb and the evidence was there. As the debris was being cleared and the families and friends began to weep and the wave of shock turned to despair and loss, the calls started coming in. "We're so very sorry". "Is there anything we can do?" Real sympathy. Tears on the switchboard. Family and friends and even my cleaning lady sweetly rang to check that I was fine. But then, "I've got a box of nails here, shall I send it to you?". "They should have bombed every pub in the street". "Fuck off nancies". "Gas the queers". They go on and on. Twenty five calls by lunchtime. These words are the second cousins of the bombs. As anyone who has ever been called Nigger, Paki or Poof knows.
Banjamin aged 17 hasn't been called a poof yet, because he barely knows it himself. And his friends definitely don't. On Friday as the news was coming in, his head was reeling with confusion. As the pictures of the outrage filtered onto the screen, terror sprung to the back of his throat. And then one his 'mates' said "Good" They should have killed the lot of them". Benjamin fled and wept for an hour on the telephonic shoulder of a friend of mine. That 'Good' is the bomb that blows a hole in Benjamin's idea of society.
Letter from Angela Mason, Executive Director, 1999 July 19
"It is apparent from last week's Sunday Telegraph that Baroness Young and the Christian Institute (a far right religious organisation) are supporting a 'moral crusade' against NatWest because of its pro-equality stance. They believe that existing and potential NatWest customers should change their accounts and boycott the bank."
“Private homosexuality was a criminal offence in Britain up until - astonishingly - 1967. In 1954 the British mathematician Alan Turing, a candidate along with John von Neumann for the title of father of the computer, committed suicide after being convicted of the criminal offence of homosexual behaviour in private. [...] As the pivotal intellect in the breaking of the German Enigma codes, [...] after the war, when Turing's role was no longer top secret, he should have been knighted and fêted as a saviour of his nation. Instead, this gentle, stammering, eccentric genius was destroyed, for a 'crime', committed in private, which harmed nobody. Once again, the unmistakable trademark of the faith-based moralizer is to care passionately about what other people do (or even think) in private. [...] He was offered a choice between two years in prison (you can imagine how the other prisoners would have treated him) and a course of hormone injections which could be said to amount to chemical castration, and would have caused him to grow breasts. His final, private choice was an apple that he had injected with cyanide.”
This concern for private affairs, which was introduced into Western countries under the Christian dominion of ages past, is now thankfully being systematically (but slowly) removed from public law. In "Blasphemy and Censorship: In Christianity and Islam" by Vexen Crabtree (2012) I document another example of tolerance versus institutionalized anachronistic religious authoritarianism.
“In some non-Western cultures, homosexual relations are accepted or even encouraged among certain groups. The Batak people of northern Sumatra, for example, permit male homosexual relationships before marriage. At puberty, a boy leaves his parents' house and sleeps in a dwelling with a dozen to fifteen males of his age or older. Sexual partnerships are formed between couples in the group, and the younger boys are initiated into homosexual practices. This situation continues until young men marry. Once married, most, but not all, men abandon homosexual activities. Among the people of East Bay, a village in Melanesia in the Pacific, homosexuality is similarly tolerated, although again only in males. Prior to marriage, while living in the men's house, young men engage in mutual masturbation and anal intercourse. Homosexual relationships also exist, however, between older men and younger boys, often involving boys too young to be living in the men's house. Each type of relationship is completely acceptable and discussed openly. Many married men ... hav[e] relations with younger boys while maintaining an active sexual life with their spouses.”
“[Here are notes on some regions] including currently homophobic societies, [which] have for extended periods tolerated, or even highly valued, male homoerotic relationships. In the West, the best-known examples come from ancient Greece30 but even the Christian tradition does not seem to have been consistently homophobic during its first millennium31.
Melanesia, South Asia, and the Muslim Near East also have traditions of male homoerotic relations (Herdt 1984; Ratti 1993; Schmitt and Sofer 1992). [...] Homoerotic relations in Asia are of special interest because of the prominence of arguments against homosexuality in recent debates over Asian values. In fact, however, male-male sexual relationships have a traditional basis in both China (Lau and Ng 1989) and Japan (Schalow 1989; Hinsch 1990; Leupp 1995; Pflugfelder, 1999). There even seems to be evidence of same-sex marriage in Ming dynasty (1368-1644) Fujian (Hinsch 1990: 127-34).”
It is the promiscuity of ancient Greece that gives us a rare glimpse into female homosexuality in the ancient world, although partial:
“Little material exists on sex between women, and historians of sex in antiquity such as Halperin or Foucault focus almost exclusively on male-to-male sex. The work of the 7th-century BC poet Sappho, born on Lesbos, is one of the rare examples of sources describing intense infatuations and love between women, though little of it survives.”
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
#biology #catholicism #china #christianity #equality #evolution #homosexuality #human_rights #iceland #intolerance #islam #japan #judaism #morals #netherlands #new_age #norway #paganism #sexuality #sweden #tolerance #UK #USA
Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Published by Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, NY, USA. Pro-science magazine published bimonthly.
The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.
(1999) Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. A hardback book.
(1997) Sociology. 3rd edition. Originally published 1989. Current version published by Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers Ltd. The Amazon link is to a newer version. A hardback book.
Krause, W. Kenneth
Article "Why Gay and Lesbian? A New Proposal" in Skeptical Inquirer1 (2013 Jul/Aug) p24-26.
Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation (2011). New York: Oxford University Press. LeVay is a neuroscientist from the UK and a former faculty member of Harvard Medical and the Salk Institute. In Krause (2013).
McConnel, James V.
(1986) Understanding Human Behavior. 5th edition. Originally published 1974. Current version published by CBS College Publishing, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, USA. A hardback book.
Rice, W., U. Friberg, and S. Gavrilets
Homoexuality as a consequence of epigenetically canalized sexual development (2012). The Quarterly Review of Biology 87(4): 343-368. This research has been done through the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis led by William Rice at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. In Krause (2013).