There’s a notion out there which is built upon prejudice and the misrepresentation of facts. Whether this is done deliberately or not, I cannot say.
There is a notion among conservative religious right types that marriage is ‘owned’ by the Church, and the Church is subsequently owed a say in the gay marriage debate. They object to the ‘redefinition’ of marriage (let’s ignore civil liberty, and the fact that marriage has historically been redefined anyway).
To make these arguments, ‘facts’ are thrown around about the dangers of the ‘gay’ lifestyle. For example, the greater prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases amongst homosexuals is cited as ‘evidence’ that being gay is bad.
Yet this depends on a singular application of the facts. Might promiscuity be greater among homosexuals? Possibly. It’s not a trait unique to homosexuals though – there are plenty of promiscuous heterosexuals too, and STDs are not isolated to the homosexual population.
Indeed, a 2008 study in the UK found that promiscuous behaviour in young adults was on the rise, and with this came a rise in the number of women seeking abortions and a rise in reports of STDs. Another study, in 2010, suggests the difference between heterosexual and homosexual promiscuity is around one percent. Hardly as damming as the reactionary right would suggest.
So what’s the route cause of STDs? It’s primarily people not practising safe sex. This is as big a problem for heterosexuals as it is homosexuals, and is based on a lack of education. Protection is out there, readily available, and greater awareness of this needs to be pushed. Pretending young people (both straight and gay) don’t have sex is to bury one’s head in the sand. Wielding religious arguments whilst simultaneously speaking of natural law is to both force a set of beliefs upon someone, and massive hypocrisy (homosexuality exists in nature – our religious beliefs do not).
Indeed, religious objections to contraception play a part in the lack of proper sex education. The Catholic Church considers the use of contraception to be a sin, and wields tremendous influence, all around the world. This cannot fail to influence the presence (or lack thereof) of education on the subject, and of the availability of contraception. Proponents of this position have created, at least in part, the conditions for STDs to spread, by promoting ignorance.
It alarms me greatly that the Church will oppose a means to control STDs and then lambast the problems with unprotected sex. This is a not-so-subtle effort to ensure the dominance of religious thinking and mandates in people’s private lives (including of course, homosexuality). Controlling the sexual behaviour of a population is but one way of controlling the population, and a pretty cynical one at that.
Another means employed by the religious right is to assert that homosexuals (in particular gay men) are more likely to be child molesters than straight men. This reflects both a confusion surrounding terminology, and an effort to deflect attention away from abuse scandals in the Church.
The assumption is that a man who assaults a male child is homosexual, when in fact the adult may have no preference for adult men. Would it reasonable to assume that an adult male assaulting a female child is a heterosexual? This is (unsurprisingly) not a link that the religious right argues exists.
The realilty is not based on sexual orientation but rather, psychological disorders. These are not an inherent trait of homosexuals, despite efforts to manipulate the facts to say otherwise. In fact, the Catholic Church alone has a history of abuse scandals, and subsequent cover-ups. Would it be remotely fair to tar everyone with the same brush in these circumstances? Of course not, yet those who advocate discrimination against homosexuals never appear to extend this consideration.
Can we expect these attitudes to change? Perhaps one day. That’s what we try to do, one article – one voice, at a time.