I wonder how many of you saw the 81st Annual Academy Awards Oscar this year. I did and what I am interested in is the award for original screenplay. The winner was Dustin Lance Black, screenwriter of Milk.
However, I am not writing a movie review. I want to investigate homosexuality.
A History of Suppression
With the increasing number of openly gay celebrities, homosexuality seems to be more prevalent now than in the past. However, the earliest recorded homosexual behaviour can be dated back to 12,000 BC, as evidenced in an early piece of artwork in what is now France. Homosexuality actually has a long history, despite the common misconception that it is a recent development. However, the debate over its morality remains controversial to this date.
History has taught that suppression always involves violence. As a taboo subject in many conservative countries, homosexuality is seen as a crime. Let us have a brief look at how violence has been used against homosexuals and how the issue is treated in different legal systems.
- Violent Protests:
– 1978, gay activist and city supervisor Harvey Milk (mentioned above) was assassinated in San Francisco City Hall by a political rival.
– 2004, according to the FBI, almost 60% of all recorded ‘hate crimes’ were against gay men and 15% were against lesbians.
- Different Systems, Different Approaches:
– Between the 1930 and 1970s, several countries like United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and United States decriminalized same sex relationships.
– There are still 16 Asian and African countries that punish convicted homosexuals with the death penalty or life imprisonment. (E.g. India, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc..)
– In 2009, the California state government has imposed a law (called Proposition 8 after its ballot initiative list number in the most recent election) that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.
As societies in the developed world are trending somewhat towards acceptance of homosexuality, if we want to keep up it is essential that we start by clearing our misconceptions and grasping a few facts about a group that has long been in existence.
Question #1: Is homosexuality innate?
Let’s begin with the theory of evolution. The major idea of evolution is the change in genetic information of organisms during the process of reproduction. According to this theory, the new species will either carry out genetic drift or natural selection. And either of those processes will not change the sexual orientation of species but only their skills in adapting to their environment.
So, at first glance it would seem science is against the idea that homosexuality is innate. However, a large body of statistics published by biologists shows that sexual orientation is likely to be determined by the combination of genes and environmental factors before the age of five. One’s sexual orientation is actually decided genes and upbringing.
Homosexuality is not an illness
“Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.” – The American Psychological Association (APA).
A lot of people do not like homosexuality. However, they should accept it and learn to live with it. It is a state of being, not a disease. It is impossible for any of us to revise our convictions at the drop of a hat, but if we are educated we should all be able to manage understanding and respect for every one of our fellow human beings.
(1) Milk: a movie talking about the life of a gay rights activist and politician – Harvey Milk, and is dominated in the Oscars. Trailer is available in one of the links of the references.
(2) Homoeroticism: a synonym of homosexuality, often used in a pejorative sense.
(3) Hate crime: a criminal act whose primary motivation is the oppression of a member of a minority group.