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Homosexuality and morality

Many people have an opinion on the morality of homosexuality. Advocacy concerning this issue tends to fall into any of the following categories:

  1. It is immoral and needs to be regulated
  2. It is immoral but should not be regulated
  3. It is moral, morally acceptable, or morality does not apply

View that homosexuality is immoral

Advocates of the view that homosexuality is immoral consist chiefly of followers of various religions, especially Christianity. Based on interpretations on various verses in the Old and New Testaments, they conclude that God has forbidden homosexual acts. Adding this prohibition to their concept of sexual morality as a code of conduct or set of rules governing sexual behavior, these advocates conclude that homosexual acts are immoral.

However, opinions differ on how homosexuality should be encountered. Proposals that have been made (or implemented) include:

  • Mandating therapy of homosexuals
  • Imprisoning people who commit homosexual acts
  • Prohibiting the adoption of children by homosexuals
  • Limiting membership of congregations or organizations to heterosexuals
  • Shunning homosexuals
  • Attempting to convert people to heterosexuality by talking to them, or by offering therapy
  • Regulating allegedly pro-homosexual media content

Some of these proposals are interventionist, while other groups (especially liberal Christian organizations) take a softer stance and argue against government regulation. There are also people who hold that homosexuality is immoral, but should be left an individual choice, like the choice of a "wrong" religion.

The view that homosexuality is immoral is not only held by those with religious beliefs on morality, but also by some secularists. This is typically associated with Darwinist ideas of morality, i.e. that homosexuality inhibits the natural processes of reproduction or undermines gender roles and is therefore an psychological construct or perversion, perhaps even a flawed mutation. Secular disapproval of homosexuality is also associated with the idea that homosexuality is inherently weak, unhealthy or dangerous, and that homosexuals are prone to disease.

Homosexuals have been killed or otherwise persecuted under various jurisdictions, most notably by the secular Nazi regime (see Homosexuals in Nazi Germany). Persecution of homosexuals is also common in fundamentalist Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia, where gay men have reportedly been beheaded for homosexual acts, or forced into therapy. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan reportedly executed homosexuals by burying them alive. Prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, homosexual persecution was common to many Western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the USA. Homosexuals were frequently imprisoned and/or forced to undergo extreme treatments such as chemical castration[?], forced sex changes and electroconvulsive therapy.

Expression of the view that homosexuality is immoral can also be found in the form of verbal discrimination against homosexuals (hate speech) or physical violance ("gay bashing"). Specifically, the Old Testament has been used to argue that homosexuals should be punished with death, and AIDS has been portrayed by some such as Rev. Fred Phelps as a punishment by God against homosexuals.

Some groups who advocate the legalization of currently criminal sexual activity, especially that of child/adult sexual interaction (e.g. NAMBLA), also consider homosexuality morally acceptable and frequently try to align themselves with the existing gay rights movement. This has been used as a "slippery slope" argument against a more lenient attitude towards homosexuality: If this particular sexual behavior is legalized and tolerated, the argument goes, the "floodgates" of "sexual perversion" are opened.

Others claim that gay rights groups are, in fact, largely identical in their goals and motives to these "boy love" advocates, and only use homosexuality as a cover for a more sinister long term agenda. For example, the US based group Restoring Social Virtue & Purity to America by Judith A. Reisman claims that homosexuals have deliberately subverted the mass media in order to garner support for a wide range of previously condemned sexual behaviors, including "man/boy love" (pederasty).

View that homosexuality is moral, morally acceptable, or morality does not apply

Advocates of the view that homosexuality is moral, morally acceptable, or that morality does not apply, come from a wide spectrum of individuals and groups, generally from the political left. Predominantly, support for this view comes from the various gay rights groups that lobby governments across the world for greater acceptance and equality for homosexuality, such as GLAAD[?] (USA), Stonewall and OutRage![?] (United Kingdom). Other proponents include some human rights advocates, atheists and humanists. Generally, these groups believe that morality does not apply to what occurs safely between consenting adults, and/or it is immoral to regulate consensual sexual behavior, i.e. a form of sexual oppression[?] which may actually promote anti-social behavior. Many maintain that homosexuality is desirable, pointing to the contributions that homosexuals have made throughout history and continue to make in modern society.

There also exist individuals, groups and denominations within the above-named religions whose interpretation of scripture and doctrine differs and who believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable. While generally conceding the validity of the concept of sexual morality as a code of conduct or set of rules governing sexual behavior, they conclude that there are no specific prohibitions against homosexuality itself or that scripture itself is open to intepretation. Generally, these groups hold that morality which applies to heterosexual sexual behavior should similarly apply to homosexual sexual behavior, i.e. homosexual sex is acceptable within a monogomous relationship or a same-sex marriage.

Other proponents of these views seek a more Darwinian justification for the view that homosexuality is moral or that morality does not apply, pointing to evidence that homosexuality has precedence in animal and primate behavior and is, therefore, natural behavior, perhaps even conducive to species survival.

See also: gay rights.

Morality and genetic determination

Many advocates adhere to the view that homosexual orientation is not a matter of choice, but rather genetically determined (see causes of sexual orientation). They reason that if an individual's attraction to members of the same sex is the result of heredity, as is skin color and the shape of facial features, then it should not a moral concern at all. They further argue that homosexuals should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals, just as blacks have come to be regarded as being entitled to the same rights as whites.

Advocates of the position that homosexuality is immoral either deny that sexual orientation is genetically determined, or state that not everything genetically determined is consequently healthy or moral.

See also:

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