By Akola Thompson
IN FOUR days’ time, we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. I have always been fond of Valentine’s Day, not because of its connotations, but because of what it brings out in others. That being said, I am particularly looking forward to this year’s celebration. Given President Granger’s recent promise to respect LBGT rights, I do believe that at least some persons belonging to the LBGT group will celebrate this holiday with an easier mind.
Guyana is the only South American country in which homosexuality is still illegal, and by not changing the archaic laws, Government is not only encouraging bigotry but also shamelessly violating minority rights.
I know that most people are against homosexuality for the sole reason of religion, and my penning an article is not going to change that. However, call me idealistic, but I have hope that most people are capable of both critical thought and the respecting of views and lifestyles outside of their own.
Many believe that marriage is a sacred union between man, woman and God. They also believe that same-sex marriages are unnatural, and will affect heterosexual couples. Unfortunately, these arguments are among the weakest against same-sex marriage and relations.
Marriage is a societal construct, which means that it is defined by what society thinks it should be. As such, the concept of marriage is constantly being redefined. I must point out also that marriage predates many religions, including Christianity, as it dates back to the Code of Hammurabi 1790 BC. So while one is free to imply that same-sex unions are a threat to the construct of marriage, the fact remains that marriage existed long before Yaweh became a word you weren’t allowed to say.
While homosexuality may not be the predominant sexual orientation, labelling it as unnatural is inaccurate. Homosexual behaviour has been documented in hundreds of species, from fishes to humans. Given the wide range of homosexuality within both the animal kingdom and that of Man, homosexuality is, by definition, a natural occurrence. As for how homosexual couples affect heterosexual couples, I do not even know how to begin tackling this view, due to its inanity.
Then, of course, follow the other arguments: that children “would not be here had their parents been of the same sex”, as stated by one letter writer, Reverend Gideon Cecil. Unless there is a pandemic wiping out heterosexual couples, I fail to see how same-sex marriage can lead to a world devoid of children. By trying to equate marriage with procreation, one is just making excuses to discriminate against LBGT persons.
On the topic of procreation and marriage, I know of several heterosexual couples who are infertile, or do not want children. Why aren’t these people barred from being married?
Being an atheist, I am one of those persons whom Cecil says “are trying to corrupt the morals of the world.” As such, I am a bit murky on the Bible, but granted that God killed Onan for spilling his seed on the ground, we really should look into banning these “non-procreating” persons from getting married.
Finally comes the other two most popular arguments against homosexuality: The slippery slope, and, according to Cecil, the “insult to God.”
Let me address the insult to God first. If the God one prays to expects hate and intolerance against minority groups such as the LGBT, then maybe it is time to reconsider your religious ideology.
Now, back to the slippery slope theory, which states that legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to marriages between persons and animals, and children and inanimate objects. Seeing that children cannot consent to marriage, and the fact that neither can animals nor my laptop, I can only hope that persons would stop scraping the bottom of the barrel as they search for justifications for their bigotry.
Most, if not all, of the objections to homosexuality are rooted in religion, whose convictions are based on faith, and not logic. Just as there were no logical arguments against miscegenation between blacks and whites and against gender equality, there are no logical arguments against homosexuality.
Asking for gay marriage and equal rights is not an issue of the minority trying to impose their lifestyle on the majority. This is about the minority’s civil rights, and the right to love and marry whomever they choose being respected. Many don’t see the reason behind fighting for LBGT rights; but that’s only because they have been privileged to grow up in societies in which their heterosexual orientation is considered normal; and as such, they have not had to fight for their rights.
Guyana, as a secular State, has been pandering to the religious sector for way too long on this issue, and while I know those in office are hindered by their own religious views, their religious convictions should not supersede the secularity of the State as defined by the Constitution.
As I close, I find it interesting to note that a lot of the arguments being used against homosexuality today were used against miscegenation yesterday. Below is a quote which I find interesting because it encapsulates one such argument:
“The underlying factors that constitute justification for laws against miscegenation closely parallel those which sustain the validity of prohibitions against incest and incestuous marriages.”