cannibalism, would committing the fallacy of false equivalence. Certainly there are cases in which homosexual copulation occurs with minors, but such incidents do not occur by virtue of the fact that the perpetrator was a homosexual, but because the individual in question had paedophilic tendencies, tendencies which are not exclusive to either sexual orientation. Consensual cannibalism and homosexual copulation only share similarities with each other insofar as both acts take place with the mutual consent of both participants, and that there is a social taboo against cannibalism and homosexuality. Keeping in mind the principle of “harm”, a significant difference between the two however, is that cannibalism results in the direct physical harm of the individual, from which recovery is completely impossible, whereas homosexual copulation does not. The basis of the social taboo against cannibalism is hence well-founded, but the case against homosexuality is much less clearcut.
HOMOSEXUALITY AND FAMILY VALUES ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE ”
It is commonly argued that homosexuality is detrimental to family values and societal cohesion. And yet, homosexuality and family values are not mutually exclusive categories; it is not a conceptual necessity that homosexuals will engage in sexual promiscuity. There is nothing fundamental about homosexuality which entails that the individual will possess certain behaviours or values that are antithetical to family values. Indeed, if such were the case, there would not be calls for recognition of
same-sex marriages that are, by definition, monogamous. This is also evidenced by the push for allowing the adoption of children by same-sex couples, as well as the existence of a substantial number of same-sex couples who have formed families of their own, whether through adoption or through in-vitro fertilisation. There is too little public awareness of homosexuals in loving, long-term and committed relationships, precisely because their relationships are denied societal acceptance and side-lined from the mainstream, deepening the polarisation between both factions—anti-LGBT rights and pro-LGBT rights. In addition, when examining the anecdotal evidence given in support of the claim that homosexuality wrecks the family unit, one can often isolate more specific factors which leads to the break-up of these families—adultery, or the family member(s)’s inability to accept the homosexual individual. Needless to say, the correlation (if any) of homosexuality with such attributes should not be taken to be indicative of the behaviour of all homosexuals as a collective. Another prominent argument which claims the immorality of homosexuality is that it is unnatural and contravenes human nature. It is certainly true that homosexuals constitute a smaller proportion of the population than heterosexuals, and that without the aid of medical technology, homosexuals cannot conceive naturally. Nevertheless, neither the fact that homosexuals are unable to reproduce naturally nor the fact that they constitute a small percentage of the population, is a morally relevant fact. It might even be argued that granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children will lead
to a greater social good in that it will give orphans the opportunity to grow up in loving families, and frees up the resources of the social welfare facilities of the state which can be channelled to other areas in need. Furthermore, even if we granted that homosexuality is unnatural, a problematic assumption in itself, the fact that something is unnatural is not a morally relevant fact either. There are many things we do daily that are not “natural”. For example, is it natural that we stay in concrete blocks of shelter and chase after pieces of paper that determine our worth in society? Homosexuality does not preclude one from being a moral person who cherishes family values. In fact, greater societal acceptance of homosexuality may lead to a greater societal good. Many LGBT individuals experience a genuine and very palpable harm when faced with societal disapproval and even hostility towards their way of living and their choice of partner, which manifests itself in different ways, like the disproportionately higher suicide rates of LGBT adolescents in the US. This concrete harm is in direct contradistinction to a more abstract, intangible alleged harm to the collective moral fibre of society, and other claims of that ilk. It is difficult to see how one could justify the view that sexual orientation is a fundamentally crucial aspect to one’s moral status without resorting to stereotypes and misconceptions about homosexuality. Having a standing moral directive, whether through informal social reinforcement or enshrined in legislation, will not miraculously cure homosexuals of their homosexuality, or reduce
the percentage of homosexuals to more “tolerable” levels (even if heterosexuality amongst all people is a morally desirable quality). Homosexuality is not an aberrant social anomaly that will go away if we enact legislation that demonstrates societal moral disapprobation nor is it a disease we need to cure—homosexuality has continued to exist even in societies that have taken (or are in the process of contemplating) much more punitive measures against it, like Uganda, where the death penalty is under consideration. The shift towards a society that accepts, and not merely tolerates, homosexuality will help homosexuals struggling with their sexual and gender identity to not feel ostracised by their community, thus going a long way in alleviating the guilt, self-loathing, and self-esteem issues that the homosexual person might have, due to the perceived shamefulness or sinfulness of their sexual orientation. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about homosexuality. The societal ills purported to have been caused by homosexuality could arguably be partially attributed to the manner in which members of society perceive and behave towards homosexuals (like the viewing of homosexuals as sexual predators of children), rather than homosexual behaviour itself per se. Given that homosexuality does not justifiably pose a threat to the welfare of society, and that its acceptance is essential to the well-being of homosexual individuals, it would be immoral to deny such individuals the right to pursue meaningful and fulfilling lives in accordance with their conception of the good.
March 2013 issue of THE RIDGE - the largest student-run magazine in the National University of Singapore