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05 July 2009

Gagging With Gay Abandon

The media is hysterically celebrating the reading down of Section 377 of the IPC that has decriminalised homosexuals. Fine prints of the judgment are being overlooked at will and ignorance of both science and religion are being bandied about by English media journalists, gay rights activists and, yes, also religious heads. In this backdrop, Research, setting out to put the records straight, finds that neither side in the debate is bang on

The ruling by the Delhi High Court that treating consensual gay sex as a crime is a violation of fundamental rights protected by India's constitution, is welcome. Indeed, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom is nobody's business, least the state's. But the euphoria in the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community succeeding the verdict must not suppress some questions that keep intriguing the learned who are not so visible in the debate. Most importantly, the charged atmosphere of political correctness that one is witnessing now in the media should not stem further scientific research into the subject.

This exposition will have three sections: the first legal, the second scientific and the third religious. In the section that deals with law, this writer will enumerate one by one what is good in the new interpretation by the court and what remains odd, and how society is likely to handle it. In the section on science, the piece intends to enlighten readers about what they should have known by watching Discovery Channel and National Geographic, if not everybody can be expected to subscribe to medical journals. In the portion on religion, Research will cite original scriptures in Sanskrit, Arabic and (Koine) Greek, and translate and explain them to ascertain how correct the respective interpretations by modernists and religious heads are.

SECTION I: Law
Research's argument # 1:
Social background of most policemen subjects all laws to abuse; Sec 377 is no exception

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code states: "Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with (imprisonment for life), or with imprisonment of either description for term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section."

One can see that the term "homosexual" or "same-sex" does not figure in the law. However, problem lies in the clause "against the order of nature", which is open to both misuse and abuse. The incident gay rights activists (including straight people who are fighting for Indian homosexuals' right to equality) highlight repeatedly is one that happened in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in 2001. The police had invaded two offices of some local AIDS prevention organisations to arrest the staff, levelling on them the charge of "encouraging homosexuality" in the city.

While, to some, the incident projects India as a society with mediaeval ethos, the finer aspect that cannot be missed is the social background of policemen in the country. In no way can the majority of India's police, which is the department's lowest rung, be considered to represent or appreciate the education and values of the country's urbane middle class. Ergo, the burden of guilt of being a regressive nation is not on the middle class. Where then is the pressing need to have the monkey off our shoulders? This nuance is not being made clear in the discourse that we are not levied by a guilt conscious; we simply want the country's policing standards to improve.

This writer was, while frequenting the residential quarters of DCPs situated in Delhi's Hauz Khaz locality as a private tutor several years ago, requested by the officers' orderlies to fill application forms on behalf of their 'class eight pass' relatives living in remote villages all over the country. The applications were for jobs of constables. The casual chats that I used to have with these officers' helps, in course of filling the forms, revealed the stage from where corruption in police begins.

Since several state education boards issue Class X certificates based on an exam that includes the syllabus of Class IX, for a villager who is just about literate and is looking for a job in a city, the maximum formal education that can be claimed is of the eighth grade, as up to that stage the claim need not be substantiated with a board certificate. And if the rising level of the Indian population's education and demand for jobs raises the entry bar, the villager is ready to fake it. Though Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and semi-urban centres of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are the most infamous for certificate manufacturing and selling rackets, villagers from the most literate state of India, Kerala, too do not shy away from corrupt practices if that is what it takes. I left the application forms of a certain Kutty, a certain Thomas and a certain George half way when asked to fill 'matriculation' against the entry of education, the certificate for which their benevolent relations in Delhi said they would "manage".

[Only on one of these occasions was a DCP present in his house. When asked why he had not helped his servant fill the form, he excused himself by saying he had a prior appointment, quickly put a shirt on his vest and rushed out. As if to plead innocence on the matter, no other DCP was at home when his orderly asked me to fill his cousin's or nephew's application form.]

What follows next, the orderlies revealed, is a bribe of Rs 250,000 (this was the rate in 1999-2000), as the high entry bar in terms of education is easily scaled using fake certificates. Villagers who are determined to get the job sell off their measly land holdings and borrow heavily from local moneylenders to collect the amount. Then, as a candidate, waiting to be inducted as a constable, staying temporarily in Katwaria Sarai, had told this writer once, "इतना तो साल भर में कमा ही लेंगे ; आगे तो फ़ायदा ही फ़ायदा है / itnA tO sAl bhar mEn' kamA hI lEngE, Age tO fAydah hI fAydah hai (I am sure to break even within a year. Whatever I earn thereafter will be profit)!"

In the hands of these virtually illiterate, highly indebted police force, any law is a potent weapon for extortion. And a typical villager's idea of "order of nature" is certainly not homosexuality, much as homosexuals may be present in villages too. Ask a constable what he thinks homosexuality is and the most likely answer you will get is "sodomy". The long demanded but still pending police reforms, which must cover social education of the force as much as correct the flaws in the recruitment process, alone can address this issue. It will go a long way in redressing the abuse of other laws as well.

The uninitiated mass's narrowing down of the concept of homosexuality as nothing but sodomy brings us to the next argument. But before that, it must be added: when placards in the gay pride parade announced, "To love is not a crime," did they factor in the fact that in the eyes of law even heterosexual love has no meaning? Law, by definition, is supposed to be shorn of emotions. This is not nitpicking; the new reading of the law actually does little to honour two consenting adults' feeling for each other as decriminalising a relationship is not the same as legalising it.

Research's argument # 2:
Why ignore court's reluctance to legalise homosexuality? What can be a social fallout if homosexual relations are legalised?

As homosexuality has still not been legalised, the Indian society has to wait for a typical case, say, where a homosexual couple seeks to adopt a child, to come up and wait for a high court or the Supreme Court to set a new precedent on the issue. But if such a verdict in future goes in favour of a homosexual plaintiff, it could have social implications that encompasses what we understand as a child's rights.

Our society has to debate whether it has the right to push an unassuming child into a situation where he/she might be subjected to uncomfortable, intrusive questions at school or the neighbourhood park. There is no point denying the fact that Indians by and large have a terrible sense of propriety when it comes to asking a stranger questions regarding his/her person. Obviously, since parents themselves do not have this sense, they cannot prevail upon their children to develop the sense either.

"Are you married?" may be okay. But if you say, "No," it follows the question, "Why?" If you are married, "do you have children?" If it has been some years for which you have been married, "why no children even now? Don't want it so soon? Planning? Have a problem? Seen a doctor? What does he say?"

In such a society, adults may be able to handle it; they may suppress their unease and anger, put up a silly smile and ignore it. But imagine a child being asked by his/her friend, "Are both your parents men/women?" If a new-born or a little older infant is adopted by a homosexual couple, will the law expect the child to take an informed, mature decision to get into such a situation?

It is beyond both the jurisdiction and capability of a court of law to change society. It must wait for a change in the mindset before issuing a verdict that, by general Indian standards, is revolutionary. This writer had thought of offering citations of researches done on the issue, but found none conducted in India. Of course, a university cannot conduct a research on a practice that is illegal and not widespread in the country. If some homosexual couples have indeed raised children, the subjects are scattered, the sample is beclouded and certainly not big enough to project a representative picture. European countries, the US and Canada have had instances where children have been brought up normally by homosexual parents, but Indian society will take time to reach there. Presuming that the evolution of every society traverses the same path, that is.

Research's argument # 3:
Why ignore the fine print?

As for sex in particular, it is curious to note that the LGBT community went delirious on hearing the pronouncement of the verdict even as the court refused to lift the applicability of Section 377 of the IPC from non-vaginal sex. This vital detail has also not been highlighted, though mentioned in obscure corners, in newspapers.

In the euphoric atmosphere, another important aspect of the judgment that the community seems to be ignoring willingly is that the new reading of the law has the limited ambit of Delhi; for other high courts across the country, this is a precedent following which is not binding for them. One may note, the venue of the infamous 2001 incident, Lucknow, remains outside the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court.

Research's argument # 4:
A couple's privacy, a homosexual's publicity and visualisation of some real life scenarios

Why were the defendants (BP Singhal and Co) alone worked up so much that they decided to appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court? Why should the Naz Foundation not plead before the apex court that non-vaginal intercourse too cannot remain in the ambit of Section 377? Also, why should even heterosexuals not be displeased with this clause and make common cause with the gay community?

Declaring homosexual mating as legal but maintaining that Section 377 still applies to non-vaginal sex is a glaring paradox in the judgment.

Is this fine print worth ignoring because nobody has ever lodged a First Information Report about being forced to have non-vaginal sex by his/her partner? If so, what is the fuss about? If nobody knows who is having non-vaginal sex at home, how does one know whether, say, two or more young men sharing a house, leaving for office every morning, coming back home every evening and living in the night under the same roof — there are thousands of them in every Indian city — are straight or gay?

The Indian situation is more complex than that in the West. An example, stating which would look to Indians like stating the obvious, is that of a friendly gesture that is commonplace here. Placing an arm around a friend's shoulder is something all of us have done as we whiled away time at the school playground or inside a neighbourhood park. We did it when we were 5, when we were 15, when we were 25. Some Indians do it all their lives. Do it in France and maintain the posture for a while; you could be construed as gay! So, how is a gay identified in India?

A little known filmmaker alleged on TV on 2 July that he was harassed by the police at a railway station. Since he is not famous and was, at the time of being apprehended, obviously not carrying a placard on his chest declaring his sexual orientation, how did the police identify him as gay? Will it betray this writer's unrefined taste to ask what he was doing at the platform to attract the police's attention? If he made some unsolicited advances at some other man who was a stranger, wouldn't the police catch even a heterosexual man if he were to make unsolicited advances at a woman present on the platform? If he did something to a male companion, wouldn't Indian police catch me even if I were to kiss my wife in the open?

This writer's imagination is not running riots; if the interviewer had asked the filmmaker to elaborate what had happened that day, he would have done more justice to the story.

Research's argument # 5:
A patient's right to treatment

This is the aspect on which the new interpretation of Section 377 will be decisive, hopefully. A homosexual HIV positive or AIDS patient, while visiting a hospital, will not have to face the police before he faces the doctor. Nor will the staff of any genuine NGO trying to help the patient be slapped with the charge of running a sex racket.

Recalling the Lucknow incident, the state at that time had, in spite of all evidence of legitimate activities of the arrested activists, refused to release them. The police went ahead and filed charges against them in a lower court which, in its judgment, called homosexuality a "curse on society". Curse? Yes, given the condition of justice delivery especially in the country's lower courts, it is not surprising to hear magistrates and district & sessions court judges invoke words like "curse" and "sin" in their written judgments, as if they did not graduate with a degree in law but one in theology.

The National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) was a mute spectator to the incident. It could not defend its own policies due to the existing archaic and discriminatory, pre-2 July 2009 interpretation of the law. Understandably, Director-General of NACO, K Sujatha Rao, a relieved person now, reacted positively to the development, explaining that her organisation's reaching out to the LGBT community, a "high-risk" group for HIV/AIDS cases, was hard earlier as the law made it difficult for her staff members to work with sex workers and gays. "They were the hidden population, and we could not reach them as the law was not favouring them," she said.

However, the statistic is confusing. According to the revised 2007 report, India has an approximate 2.5 million people living with HIV. According to NACO, there are 2.35 million men having sex with men (MSM) in the country. So, what percentage of this 2.35 million comprises the 2.5 million HIV positive patients? For many years, the percentage of such patients, the media has repeatedly reported, has been increasing rapidly among heterosexuals too. Why are homosexuals then still being classified as a "high risk" group? Is it actually a higher risk group? It is, if the statistics in the US shows the trend everywhere including India. According to the Americsn Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16,749 cases of HIV infection through male-to-male sexual contact were reported in 2007. The corresponding figure for high-risk heterosexual contact was 11,111. NACO's web page on HIV data does not show classification by transmission category.

NACO's classification looks anomalous also because of a finer calculation: Among the other high risk groups identified by the organisation, viz., sex workers, truckers and injecting drug users, the percentage of heterosexuals far exceeds that of homosexuals.

To pinpoint the category, NACO's statute should identify what it calls the कोठी/kOTHI (receptive partner) homosexuals as facing a higher degree of risk.

Out of an estimate of 2,500,000 gays and 100,000 lesbians in India, the highest concentrations of homosexual men are in four major states: Maharashtra (48,000), Tamil Nadu (30,000), Delhi (28,000) and Gujarat (26,000). Out of these 30% are yet to identify themselves. Since NACO intervenes only after a homosexual identifies himself/herself, more than a law or the repealing or re-reading of an existing law is needed to cover the entire vulnerable population, whether they are homosexuals or heterosexuals.

***

SECTION II: Science

Too much of noise in the talk shows of news TV on 2 and 3 July had strained this writer. Whatever temptation for some more of it remained was gone with a quick surfing of channels in the evening of 4 July. On panel on NDTV were again the usual suspects. Mercifully, Times Now and CNN-IBN had moved on.

The tenor of debates following the Delhi High Court verdict in those 3 days suggested that, according to TV journalists, that homosexuality was natural was a foregone conclusion. If so, why did they call for a debate on it? The very holding of the debate shows either they have doubts or they want to address the doubt in the mind of the audience? If so, why did no psychiatrist feature in the debate on TV?

The print media proved none the better. Why has no newspaper so far commissioned a medical science professional, who is known for his/her research on the subject, to write on the issue in its edit or op-ed columns? Why this egregious omission?

Research first recalls the work of a scientist, critical to the debate, that nobody is talking about.

Research's argument # 1:
An appropriated and then wronged scientist

Veteran journalist Prannoy Roy hasn't heard of him. Neither has experienced television anchor Arnab Goswami. Nor did a top functionary of a State Minority Commission or a prominent Christian clergy. The gay or pro-gay activists who were in the respective panels of NDTV, Times Now and CNN-IBN on 2 July cannot speak about him. Actress Celina Jaitly has perhaps never heard of him.

English media journalists will not speak or write about him because today they all subscribe to political correctness. Religious heads cannot take the stand that their religion does not allow them to. And his name inconveniences those who advocate homosexuality by claiming that the orientation is natural. Hence, gay rights activists won't name him either. For the actress named above, her desperate attempt to take a scientific line of argument suggests her case is one of plain ignorance or half-baked knowledge of science.

None in the gamut of newspapers, from the almost academic Hindu to consumerist Times of India, recalled the scientist in the morning of 3 July.

He is Dr Robert L Spitzer, Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of the Biometrics Research Department at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, New York City, the US. He is the scientist, the pioneering research of the team of which he was a part in 1973 had paved the way to the US legislature's act of decriminalising homosexuality. Twenty eight years later, the scientist found something more. He published his findings to revise his own older findings that had turned obsolete according to his latest knowledge. But the world had turned too politically correct by then. He was shouted down. In 2001, when he first released his work, he was told by the American Psychiatric Association that his findings were not peer-reviewed and, hence, not acceptable. When he got them peer reviewed in 2003, a sponsor of the journal in which the findings were published, Archives of Sexual Behaviour, resigned and the gay community reacted the way it was expected of them: They raised a ruckus. In the din, no other voice could be heard. And the aftermath of Spitzer's 1973 work, which had set in the social trend of associating oneself with modernity and liberalism by arguing how 'natural' homosexuality is, could not be reversed.

For Dr Spitzer, worse was to follow his epidemiological deduction of 2003. Some Christian publications used it to further their own anti-homosexuality argument. This put a tag of religion on Spitzer's work, thereby raising permanent doubt about his latest work's academic authenticity. Gays and lesbians said his latest survey had a predetermined outcome and that there were visible loopholes in the methodology of his procedure that identified homosexuality (of some subjects in the whole sample) as unnatural. Strangely, the 1973 research too had similar lacunae; nobody pointed them out back then.

There are three big ironies in Spitzer's story: First, he turns from a hero to a villain in a matter of three decades. Second, he is considered academically credible for his first work but politically motivated for the second. Third, and this is the biggest irony, 1973 is considered modern, 2003 is not! Prannoy Roy in particular, who tried to sound as if it were a Victorian era puritanism versus modernism debate by urging his Christian panelist, "Isn't this the 21st century?" must be asked which out of 1973 and 2003 lies in the 21st century.

Let's study how Spitzer defends himself against the charge of a politically motivated research.

Excerpts from an interview of Prof Spitzer with Dr Christl R Vonholdt, Germany
Institute for Youth and Society, 29 February 2000:
CRV: In 1973 the word homosexuality was removed from the APA's list of mental disorders, the DSM. Dr Spitzer, were you the chairman of the DSM when this happened?
RS: No, I was not the chairman. I wrote a position paper. I was a very junior member
of the taskforce. It was called the “Taskforce on Nomenclature and Statistics”. I had met with some gay activists who insisted on meeting with our committee.

CRV: Can you tell us more about the history?
RS: These gay activists met with me and insisted that they have an opportunity to talk to our committee because they found out that I was on this committee which dealt with the nomenclature. I arranged to have them meet with the committee. They made their presentation which, of course, was that homosexuality should be removed, that there was no scientific evidence etc. When they left the meeting, the head of the committee turned to me and said: “You got us into this mess. Now you'll get us out of it. You come up with some kind of a proposal”. So I organized a symposium. It was held in Hawaii at the annual meeting in May 1973. At that symposium, we had different viewpoints for and against removing homosexuality.

I then became convinced that it would be useful to remove it and wrote a position paper which the committee then adopted.

CRV: Why did you think, at that time, it would be good to remove homosexuality from the list of disorders?
RS: Well, I think there were many considerations. First of all, the way the issue had been drawn. The people who believed that it was a disorder and should stay that way were pretty much insisting that as a homosexual you could never be happy, that this was a very serious mental illness and represented a very severe disturbance in personality.

Members of the committee and other people thought that this was not the case, that there were many homosexuals who were quite satisfied with their condition, who did not want to be helped. They were being pressured and unfairly forced into treatment they did not want. So the compromise - and it was actually a compromise - was to say that homosexuality, by itself, is not a mental disorder. However, if it was ego-dystonic, if the homosexual was bothered, he then was entitled to treatment and it would still be considered a mental disorder. So homosexuality itself was removed but when it was ego-dystonic, it remained. In 1987 even that was removed, but that is a different story.

What I think is important to recognize is that both sides of this controversy - and it was very bitter - believed that they had science on their side. The group that was allied with me and with the gay activists believed that it was prejudice that had kept homosexuality as a mental disorder. On the other hand, those who wanted it to remain, predominantly psychoanalytic clinicians, were convinced that we were only responding to gay activists' pressure. I think there was also a feeling in the homosexual community that in order for them to do better in terms of civil rights, they had to overcome this obstacle and that as long as psychiatry labelled homosexuality a mental disorder, they could never go and demand their full civil rights. So that became part of their political agenda.

CRV: I see some inconsistencies here. It is one thing to call a neurosis a neurosis — whatever type of neurosis, and still have people with a neurosis who will say: “I personally don't feel I have a neurosis and I feel happy”, yet one should still not take the word neurosis from the list of emotional disorders. Is there not a difference between what homosexuality is or what neurosis is and what people themselves feel about it? Was that not all mixed in together?
RS: I think you could make that argument. I'm not interested in re-examining the 1973 decision although I am now in a very awkward position because I seem to be now on the other side since I am exploring whether therapy can actually be helpful to those homosexuals who want to change.

CRV: You are doing a study at the moment with people who claim that they have changed. Can you tell us more about this study?
RS: Well, the study has really only finished its pilot phase. I have interviewed about 30 people. Most of them are men and come from a very religious orientation. Most of them are primarily motivated by conflict between their religion and their sexual behaviour and that has driven them into seeking change. Many of them have had therapy with mental health professionals. Many of them have not had any formal therapy but have been involved in ex-gay ministries. I have interviewed them. We have a very detailed questionnaire; it takes about thirty to forty minutes. On the telephone we examine their previous sexual behaviour — but it is not limited to the behaviour. We also are very interested in their arousal, their sexual attraction, (and) their sexual fantasies.

What we are really studying is whether from this [therapy] or not. The study will not answer how frequently this happens. The reason we think it is a useful study is that the gay activists have pretty much convinced everybody that it (change) never happens. So that is why we are interested in first seeing whether it happens at all. So far we have been impressed that it does seem to happen. What we hope to do in the future is to have a much larger sample and also get more individuals who are not motivated primarily by religious concerns. That is actually interesting because when I went into psychiatry in the 1960s, it was very common to have homosexual men come for therapy. It had nothing to do with religion; they just wanted to overcome their homosexuality. It may be that with the gay acceptance and gay affirmative therapy that more recently it is only people or predominantly people motivated by religious conflict who want to make the effort to change.

[Click here for the full interview]
What is evident from the excerpts above is a point that goes in favour of homosexuals who would like to remain so always and another that goes against them. It is clear that it was religion that induced the sense of guilt in most of the subjects that Spitzer examined in 2000-01. On the other hand, the researcher did not handpick them to arrive at any predetermined conclusion; they had approached him voluntarily. Therefore, to cast aspersions on the integrity of the scientist's work of 2001 was grossly unfair. What cannot be overlooked, the use of the word "most" by the doctor shows that not all patients were motivated by religion.

And, since some gays had approached Spitzer for the work that led to the 1973 publication, to make two wrongs a right, should anti-gay people allege that it was the first work, and not the second, that was politically motivated?

The underlined part in the interview shows that this is a developing science. Medical practitioners in general and psychiatrists in particular are not ruling out any possibility. Thus, when pro-gay activists are arguing their orientation is natural and the Church is saying it is not, and both are quoting scientific researches selectively to corroborate their respective claims, they are clearly peddling half-truth. And in science, a half-truth does not exist; it is falsehood.

This writer, after weighing the pieces of evidence in favour of either side in the debate, finds that the argument that homosexuality is not natural is stronger. But, in true spirit of a sincere student of science, this is not his faith or final belief. He did not despair when his fellow-journalists did on Pluto being declared "not a planet". He will not be worked up if some day science proves with finality that homosexuality is natural. There is no scope for opinion; let our beliefs never go against the latest knowledge and cling on to an older one.

Research's argument # 2:
How animal behaviour has been studied wrongly

Curiously, appearing in the debate on Times Now on 2 July, actress Jaitly was the only one who took an overt scientific line of argument. The passages that follow will punch holes in her inference that homosexuality is natural because many animals too display such behaviour. However, this section has more import than the attention the comments of Jaitly, not a scientist, merit. The same analogy was cited in the US Supreme Court case Lawrence vs Texas, 2003, to demonstrate the 'naturalness' of male-male sodomy. The mention of the author of that study will follow the explanation of the phenomenon in the animal kingdom.

There exists a clear distinction between sporadic homosexual behaviour throughout one's life, such conduct at a certain age, and being a homosexual from one's birth to death. In the wild, most males have to compete fiercely to be able to mate with a female. The hierarchy in each family or society of a given species is well defined. Showing savage but natural disregard towards their own children, mothers chase their sons out of the family for the sake of security of more babies taking birth every season, to avoid any brother-sister mating (thereby stunting genetic variety), and to prevent the clash of a growing adolescent male with the alpha male (for incestuous mating!).

For some three to ten years in case of bigger mammals, these 'outcast' males wander in the wilderness waiting to be strong enough one day to be able to overpower the master of a group. But testosterone, the hormone responsible for the male sexual urge, does not wait that long. As testosterone develops, these males must give vent to their burgeoning stock or just go crazy. That is when stopgap homosexuality creeps in.

It serves quite a few purposes. Ejaculation proves that their reproductive organs work. In Thomson's Gazelles (Eudorcas thomsoni, a species of deer found in African grasslands), titillation is with mutual consent. Males do not have intercourse with other males. A deer fondles the genitalia of another with gentle kicks of a front toe for a while and then the second returns the favour to the first.

In case of common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), the reason is slightly different. A chimp attains puberty when it still appears a kid. The hormonal growth is so fast and replenishment of sperm after each ejaculation is so rapid that a sexually raging chimp would not spare anyone who comes his way. In a matter of an hour, chimps may have a round of heterosexual and another of homosexual intercourse. The females get so used to this treatment that they almost get addicted to it. So, when in a group most chimps are 'busy', a female may get her vulva rubbed by another. Even a great age difference is not an impediment.

In elephants (both African and Asian — Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus respectively) and sea lions (the Otariidae family, the New Zealand variety Phocarctos hookeri in particular), it's a different game. The one who rides during the couple's anal sex is a bully: It is his way to assert his position in the society's hierarchy. This is like the behaviour of some boys who have lived for many years in hostels, or inmates of a prison who for years have longed to see even the face of someone from the opposite sex. Their conduct is not even of the bisexual variety; it stops right after getting a partner of the opposite sex. That is, it's not bisexual because sex with the same gender and that with the opposite one does not continue simultaneously.
Disclaimer: This writer does not suggest that human homosexuals indulge only in anal sex.
In very clear terms, here, the anus is a compromise for a vagina. The creature being penetrated is a reluctant but hapless participant. No. Rather the victim. The age or the size difference is too much for the smaller of the two to protest. It is sexual harassment. And sexual harassment is less about sex, more about power. The stronger harasses the weaker.

The list of animals that stay homosexuals for a while is big. In short, given a choice, no animal remains homosexual all its life. If it does, the choice did not exist. Animal homosexuality is a rehearsal for the ultimate objective of procreation for which a heterosexual intercourse is the only natural recourse. When one comes across gay partners for life in the animal kingdom, they are cases where neither partner could successfully invade the harem of an alpha male after overpowering the 'ruler'. In the other type of homosexual behaviour, it is a simple case of ragging.

We have got a paradox here. Homosexuals like to give the analogy of animals to prove their point while the religious argue that human beings are a class above animals and hence the comparison does not hold. However, as the arguments above suggest, it is the very analogy that homosexuals have chosen that is not working in their favour. Animals turn out to be too pragmatic to get involved in something that produces, well, nothing. But this is the procreation argument used by religionists who have a tendency to belittle bestial sensibility!

This article cannot accommodate the rationality and justification for homosexual behaviour in all the 1,500 odd species enumerated by Bruce Bagemihl in his 1999 review. But a common term used in most medical journals that have dealt with the issue can be shared with the readers. Biologists are reluctant to use terms such as "homosexual animals" or "homosexuality in animals"; they make it a point to call it "homosexual behaviour in animals". As explained above, the terms do not mean the same.

Also pertinent is the point that Bagemihl is not a biologist. He served on the faculty of University of British Columbia and earned a PhD in linguistics from there in 1988. Time columnist Jeffrey Kluger, of course, called him a "cognitive scientist" too. Now, the study of cognisance can at best be categorised as a social 'science', not a biological science.

Anyway, when any homosexual behaviour is sighted and then cited to further the 'homosexuality is natural' argument, the following questions must be asked:
  • Is the alternative of heterosexual partner available to the subject being studied? If yes, are the heterosexual partners from genetically diverse groups? (Every animal tries to the extent possible not to mate within the family)
  • Is animal homosexuality comparable to the situations in hostels that are exclusively for boys or girls, or to that in jails?
  • Is the female of the species physically domineering so as to scare the male away?
  • In a given couple, isn't the animal that is always seen mounting the other actually a bully? (Compare with similar instances of ragging in colleges)
  • Among males, does the act culminate in ejaculation by both? (If not, the one not ejaculating is not enjoying the experience)
  • Are sperms planted inside the anal orifice always or at least 50% of the time? ('always' is a better premise; animals are alien to the idea of coitus interruptus)
Bagemihl does not get into several of these details in his study of any of the 1,500 species. His published work, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (St Martin's Press, 1999), is clearly an academically incomplete work, betraying impatience to make a political statement. By his own admission, "I'm a scientist who is gay," he says, clarifying, "I can't separate the two. I wrote this as a scientist, but the implications for humans are enormous."

Not understanding the import and exact context of the above questions when they were put in a social networking website, an opponent in the debate countered my question, "Is the female of the species physically domineering so as to scare the male away?" by giving the example of the black widow spider. Since it kills the male after mating with it, why isn't the male scared away, he asked. Wrong question.

The female black widow spider (genus Latrodectus) uses the corpse of the male it mates with as a nutritional source for the eggs it lays in the male's body after killing it post-mating. It's the natural behaviour of all females of this particular species without exception. Scared by such inevitable fate mating would lead to, the whole male population of no species can turn homosexual.

Several rounds of debate that this writer has had in various networking websites has shown that most opponents have this tendency of taking a fraction of my statement as cue and then flying off tangentially.

Research's argument # 3:
Careless, ignorant use of biological terms by the chattering class

In course of debates on the subject with the so-called liberals, one often comes across the term "hermaphrodite". Like the gays' and lesbians' claim of being born that way, many talk of people who are born hermaphrodites while referring to eunuchs! This is outrageously ignorant.

Both according to biology and the Oxford English Dictionary, a eunuch is a "castrated male". It is not expected of (learned or cultivated) sociologists to have a thorough knowledge of science. What exposes their agenda is the deliberate display of wrong language.

A hermaphrodite is either a species where both male and female organs are present in the same individual. Or it is parthenogenetic; that is, while reproducing, the ovum develops without being fertilised by a spermatozoon; hence it involves only one parent. Has anybody heard of a human being who has naturally got the fully developed features of the first or is capable of pulling off the feat of the second? Why then use this word while discussing transgender human beings?

How this class of people, some of whom are columnists in newspapers, cite Hindu texts wrongly to claim there has been an accepted tradition of eunuchs in India since the mythical times will be discussed in the section under religion.

One need not be a scientist to interview hijras of India and find out why they became a part of the group. It is a social construct that is extremely protective of all members of the order and hence becomes a refuge of some jobless, hardly educated, hapless men. The basic eligibility criterion laid down to a wannabe hijra is that, within a stipulated time after joining the order, the male has to get himself castrated.
[The mediaeval method of surgery is too crude a sight to watch and bear. Such instances have been documented and telecast by the BBC, Discovery Channel and National Geographic among several other reputed European and American broadcasters. Indian news channel Times Now too had made a programme on hijras, but it did not have such vivid (graphic?) descriptions.

New research shows not all hijras have undergone castration, but social studies reveal that only those who brave the crude operation and survive it rise the ranks in the hijra hierarchy. Some who join the clan are those who were born with ambiguous genitalia.]
The new entrant has to also convince the head of the clan that his intentions in joining the order are not mala fide; there exist severe rivalries between the different clans of hijras in every Indian town and city; the investigation of the candidate's antecedents is to prevent subterfuge and subsequent sabotage. Once he — there is no need to be confused as to whether such a person should be referred to as "he" or "she" — is a part of the group, he begins bluffing the world around, just like every other man who joined the group before him does: "What can I do if God has made me like this?" What is sad, the audience by and large believes in this cock and bull story. Even if you consider a person born with ambiguous genitalia, it's a medical condition; what's so divine about it?

This paragraph is for my foreign readers; most Indians have witnessed it; many have experienced it. The hijra clans are glorified extortion rackets, sustained by centuries' old superstitions of the land where they thrive. Most people in the subcontinent value their 'blessings' and fear inviting their 'wrath'. Conveniently, the hijras invoke Vishnu's name in front of Hindus (otherwise they worship Bahuchara Mata and Aravan) and Allah's name while in the milieu of Muslims to instil fear in the minds of the people. They come to your house during wedding ceremonies and after your child is born; the local municipality and the office of the registrar of births, deaths and marriages help them get the addresses. The instance after your child's birth is more scary. In the name of blessing your child, they will take him from the cradle or your lap and begin a burlesque dance while singing some film numbers totally out of tune in a croaking voice. After a while, the head of the troupe will pause and approach the head of the household and demand a hefty sum. In less developed smaller towns, the amount is in the range of Rs 200 - Rs 500. In Delhi and Mumbai, it is anywhere between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000. If the child's father refuses to pay, they will not return the child. You cannot even enter a scuffle with them as the baby is still in their custody; besides, you are inhibited to hit a 'woman'. To pressurise you more, they could turn vulgar, display their genitalia or even urinate on your floor and hurl the worst of expletives at you. The disgusting show could continue for up to a couple of hours. Mercifully, they will not hurt your child, though they may threaten to.

Outraged by hijras, their means of sustenance and the superstition that feeds their economy, India's British rulers had banned them. In the name of tolerance and laissez faire, and perhaps because the post-independent ruling class did not want to antagonise its superstitious subjects, the ban was lifted. And now you have a breed of 'liberal' ignoramuses shedding copious tears for them. It's time the government policy on transvestites/eunuchs was reviewed. Hopes for it are dim though; even the atheistic communist state governments of Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal have never tried to proscribe the cult.

Nevertheless, for some years, this writer has noticed, Indian men are turning less and less superstitious about them. I once witnessed some young men beating up hijras black and blue while travelling by train from Delhi to Kolkata (while demanding money from those college students, a hijra had grabbed one of them by his crotch).

Now men like those in that train know, when they are hitting a hijra, they are actually not hitting a woman.

Lesbians, gays and bisexuals should seriously consider ousting from their political pressure group all transgenders who are part of hijra rackets. Or, hijras may consider returning to the mainstream; government may think of a feasible employment package for their rehabilitation. No civilised society can bear with the ribaldry that hijras represent.

Research's argument # 4:
The birth and trigger factors of homosexuality — how true?

Two clichéd defences by the two sides in the debate: Homosexuals say they were born as such. Those who say homosexuality is not natural argue that some event in an individual's life triggers homosexuality in him/her. This writer's point is: the two are not mutually exclusive. It is entirely possible that a person is born homosexual but there can be found an event — rather a biological accident — in the life of the subject's mother that triggered a different sexual orientation in the foetus. That is, the trigger exists — either before or after the subject's birth.

For example, when a lesbian is born, the reason could be congenital adrenal hyperplasia. What this jargon means can be understood by following this process: Adrenal glands produce cortisol from cholesterol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone required for normal endocrine function. If non-sex chromosomes suffer from a recessive disease due to mutations of genes for enzymes that help in this production of cortisol, then sex steroids are produced in surplus or less than the adequate quantity. The resultant high androgen levels during foetal development affects the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the foetus. Such a female is likely to be born with pronounced male characteristics and have homosexual tendencies (ref: Psychosexual development of women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia).

When a gay is born, he could be hyper-masculine or hypo-masculine. In the first case, explains a Department of Psychology and Graduate Group, Neuroscience, Endocrinology, University of California, "men with more than one older brother, who are more likely than first-born males to be homosexual in adulthood, are exposed to more prenatal androgen than eldest sons. Prenatal androgens may therefore influence adult human sexual orientation in both sexes, and a mother’s body appears to ‘remember’ previously carried sons, altering the foetal development of subsequent sons and increasing the likelihood of homosexuality in adulthood".

In case of hypo-masculinity, there are sexual behaviour-controlling clumps of neurons in the anterior hypothalamus which, if they are about half the size than normal, can make the foetus/baby homosexual. This was a 1991 experiment result that was successfully replicated in sheep in 2003.

One can clearly see that the biological events above can be categorised as one or more of these: disease, disorder, abnormality. It may hence, going by human knowledge so far, be foolish to ask a homosexual to change his/her sexual orientation. But there is no harm trying to explore ways to prevent a foetus from turning homosexual.

It is important not to miss the caveat issued in 1994 by the scientist who had carried out the tests in 1991:
It (the 1991 research) also made the unassuming (Simon) LeVay one of the most misunderstood men in America. "It's important to stress what I didn't find," he points out with the courtly patience of someone who long ago got used to waiting for the rest of the world to catch up. "I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn't show that gay men are 'born that way,' the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay centre in the brain — INAH3 is less likely to be the sole gay nucleus of the brain than part of a chain of nuclei engaged in men and women's sexual behaviour. My work is just a hint in that direction — a spur, I hope, to future work."

Research's argument # 5:
The news of gay gene was hoax

As recently as May this year, the American Psychological Association updated its records to state: "There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."

This is a clear departure from the organisation's previous stand: "There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's sexual orientation. Most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

Compare the underlined parts in the two paragraphs above.

How was the myth of the 'gay gene' propagated? In 1993, a team led by Dean Hamer studied 76 gay brothers and their families. The team found that the maternal uncles and cousins of the subjects studied numbered considerably more than their paternal counterparts. Then, to check if there was an X chromosome linkage to the phenomenon, the researchers examined the 22 markers on the X chromosome of the gays to check if similar alleles* existed. The result of another test showed 82.5% of sibling pairs had similar alleles in the distal region** of Xq28***. This percentage was way above the range of 50% expected in case of fraternal brothers.
* An allele is a member of a pair or series of different forms of a gene.
** Distal region is the region between more of the two distances (or the most out of three or more distances) between two (or more) things.
*** Xq28 is a genetic marker. To a scientist, a genetic marker is a gene or DNA sequence that looks peculiar and hence stands out, so to speak, in the chromosome being studied. The peculiarity is a result of mutation or some change in the genomic position.

Logic in the experiment: If male sexual orientation is influenced by a gene or genes at Xq28, then gay brothers should share more than 50% of their alleles at this region, whereas their heterosexual brothers should share less than 50% of their alleles. By contrast, if there is no such gene, then both types of brothers should display 50% allele sharing.
Not being able to understand such technical parlance, some journalists reported the tests' results as the discovery of a 'gay gene'. The over-simplified interpretation of the results — and an obvious wrong conclusion drawn from them — created a furore in the science community. It prompted at least five more teams, the works of which are widely known to students of genetics, to carry out tests to check whether the results were similar. These five research teams were headed by S Hu, AR Sanders, JM Bailey, G Rice and J McKnight & J Malcolm. One may study their findings from this paper too: "A genomewide scan of male sexual orientation".

The respective results in case of Hu's and Sanders' studies were 67% and 66% of gay brothers in new saturated samples showing to share a marker on the X chromosome at Xq28. Bailey's team and that of McKnight and Malcolm found no significant dominance of gay relations among their subjects' maternal relations. Rice's lab could not replicate the Xq28 linkage results at all.

Further studies were all the more detailed; they involved full-genome scans. Just four years ago, Brian Mustanski's team, testing a much larger sample of 456 subjects, found much weaker link for Xq28 than what was reported by the other scientists named above. However, they did find other markers with significant likelihood scores at 8p12, 7q36 and 10q26, the latter two having approximately equivalent maternal and paternal contributions.

This makes this writer reiterate: This science is at a developing stage; please do not jump to conclusions. As of now, there is no gay gene known. If it's located in future, we will know... hopefully from thoroughbred science journalists.

Research's argument # 6:
Lay man's philosophy challenging a different order of nature

A question must be asked to homosexuals: If the nature's design of union between a man and a woman could be defied, why couldn't homosexuals devise a method of uniting that does not bear any resemblance with the processes of sexual union used by heterosexual couples?

Another question that is about such similarity is: How come, like in heterosexual union a man remains a man and a woman - woman, in a homosexual couple too, say, L1 and L2, L1 always plays the 'male' and L2 the 'female'? Why can't L1 be the 'woman' and L2 be the 'man' and vice versa alternately? Why for some days in their seven-year long relation couldn't Martina Navratilova, for example, play Judy Nelson's 'wife' instead of always being her 'man'? Being not constrained by two different sets of sexual organs as is the case with a heterosexual couple, shouldn't a homosexual counterpart observe a greater degree of equality or exchange during the process of mating?

The corollary of the second question is: Why is it seen invariably that in a homosexual couple, the partner that acts like a man has more masculine physical features while the one who conducts herself like a woman is physically softer of the two?

Research's argument # 7:
Media policy: be shrill to gag the politically incorrect, and 'win' the debate

In the "Newshour" programme on Times Now on 2 July, all that anchor Arnab Goswami allowed Father Dominic Emmanuel, Director of the Delhi Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, to utter after any statement that needed a context, were "no, no...", "what I want to say is that...", "my point is...", etc, while his pro-gay activist opponent Anjali Gopalan of the Naz Foundation and Tripti Tandon, advocate for the applicants at the high court, were allowed to speak uninterrupted. Arnab himself raised the pitch and volume of his voice so high every now and then that even a word of the priest's explanation of his case could not be heard. Finally, picking a statement of Father Emmanuel out of context, Goswami asked him, "Do you mean, Father, that children of broken families become homosexuals? That's all we have time for tonight!" He turned towards the other camera in the studio set and said, "We leave it to our viewers. Do write in to us... !"

That was a clear bid to ridicule the stand of religion on the issue. And it was unfair. Since Father Emmanuel had counted a few more reasons for homosexual behaviour in some individuals, that a broken family necessarily turns a child into a homosexual could have, in no way, been what he wanted to say. The priest was anyway wrong, but there was a better way to expose that (explained in the next two paragraphs as well as under the section on religion).

A broken family can have several repercussions. A child of the family may meet with one or more of these consequences: chronic stress, depression, rage, self-medication leading to drug addiction, alcoholism, low self-esteem, lack of confidence in one's capabilities and/or any kind of self-defeating lifestyle (T Harris, GW Bifulco and A Brown, 1986; N Garmezy, 1986; M Maine, 1991). For that matter, if the child is resilient enough, he may bear no implication of the feud between his/her parents at all. But to stay in the context of this section, let us find out if homosexuality is a probability in such cases.

There is no such evidence. However, a family troubled by marital discord may lead to certain situations where a child feels that the opposite sexes are not compatible or, taking advantage of the weak family set-up, a sick aggressor may abuse the child. If the abuser happens to be of the opposite sex, an aversion for that sex may develop in the child's mind. But there is no ruling out of such possibilities even where the family bonds are pretty strong. And there is no thumb rule that the sick aggressor will be of the opposite sex.

Research's argument # 8:
The clergy on TV are neither saints nor scientists, but heckling makes them appear victims

When a Catholic clergy says that a probable outcome of a broken family is a heterosexual boy growing up to become a homosexual man, let us, before dismissing everything related to religion as hogwash, study certain institutional frameworks that the Church has built over the ages.

Take this article by Rev Dr David Kyle Foster, for example. It talks about two probabilities: (1) a homosexual can be a paedophile and (2) a child who is abused could grow up to be homosexual, for the one who had abused him belonged to the same sex. The promotion of his writing by the Church of the Messiah and Mastering Life Ministries may raise doubts over its scientific import. But are the authors that he quotes — Timothy Dailey and David Finkelhor to name two — all dubious?

Not quite. But when the Church quotes them, the citations are incomplete or out of context, or the inference drawn is wrong. Let's take for instance the study by John MW Bradford, D Bloomberg and Det Bourget, viz, "The Heterogeneity/Homogeneity of Paedophilia," [Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, (1988)]. A Christian website quotes this sentence from the study: "Researchers have variously estimated the incidence of homosexual paedophilia between 19% and 33% of reported molestations... (p 218)"

Why does the author shy from deriving from which sexual group the remaining 67% to 81% come from? On checking the same research work from an academic source, one would find: "... sexual offenders constitute a heterogeneous group..." The mischief stands exposed.

On the contrary, what Arnab Goswami's style does is leave the audience with a nagging thought: Why did he not let that man speak? What could have been the motive? Did he do it on his own volition or was it a decision of the channel's higher management? Such questions in the minds of viewers (the medium's consumers), the market-oriented Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd must understand, can affect their channel's position in the market in the long run.

***

SECTION III: Religion

Research's argument # 1:
The premise that Hindu society has traditionally accepted alternative sexuality is hollow

My clincher in this argument is that the depiction of an incident in a (realistic) book merely suggests that the incident happened. From mere depiction, it cannot be inferred that the incident was accepted by the public at large. Hindu texts do depict several forms of sexuality, but nowhere do they describe what level of acceptance any of those less common forms enjoyed in ancient India. The acceptance part is an imposition on the texts by today's 'modernists'.

On the 12th page of the 3 July edition of The Times of India, mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, along the lines of several newspaper columnists' pet refrain, wrote: "In the Valmiki Ramayana, there are descriptions of Rakshasa women who kiss women in Ravana's bed on whose lips lingers the taste of their master." What kind of a pro-lesbian argument is this? Is the body more important than the mind? Does Pattanaik suggest that while coupling a lesbian actually visualises or dreams of a man in the place of the woman she is having sex with? In that case, it's an anti-homosexual argument rather than a pro-homosexual one of the type explained in Research's argument # 6 under the science section.

Following is the exact verse, the translation of which Pattanaik must have referred to:

सुंदरकाण्डे नवमः सर्गः
रावणाननशङ्काश्च काश्चिद् रावणयोषितः |
मुखानि च सपत्नीनामुपाजिघ्रन् पुनःपुनः ||५७||

Ninth chapter in Sundara Kaanda:
rāwaNānanashangkāshcha kāshchid rāwaNayOShitah /
mukh
āni cha sapatnInāmupājighran punah punah //57//

Translation: Numerous young wives of Ravana were kissing one another, taking the face of each other for that Ravana.

The writer, seemingly on purpose, ignores the explanation given in the next verse, which is…

अत्यर्थम् सक्तमनसो रावणे ता वरस्त्रियः |
अस्वतन्त्राः सपत्नीनाम् प्रियमेवाचरंस्तदा ||५८||

atyartham saktamanasO rāwaNE tā arastriyah/
aswatantrāh sapatnInām priyamEwācharanstadā//58//

Translation: Those beautiful women were enamoured with Ravana; thus having lost their senses, bewitched and inebriated, they would sniff the faces of their co-wives, taking them for the face of Ravana.

Had Pattanaik read the 58th verse too, would he have argued that lesbians are lesbians either because they are looking for a man in their woman partner or because they are under the influence of alcohol? It is to avoid such mischievous interpretations that in Islamic practice a quote from the Qur'an is considered inadmissible unless the preceding and the succeeding verses too are quoted.

Research's argument # 2:
Spirituality, rationality, science and linguistics combined proves 'liberal' theory bogus

A pet theory of 'liberal' Indians — and foreigners who are taught what India is by these 'liberals' — is that Hinduism sanctioned eunuchs through the icon of Ardhanārīshwara. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The word "ardhanArIshwara" literally means "half-woman god". According to some Hindu theologians, it is a symbol that signifies the plain scientific fact that the world is a result of a union of the man, embodied by Shiva, and the woman, personified by Shakti. Spiritually, this is द्वैत/ dwaita, meaning duality of form.

The Shaivas do not agree. According to them, Shiva alone is the origin of life. If interpreted rationally, this would mean they are saying the first man came into existence before the first woman.

There is a parallel found in the Rgveda where an egg splits into भूत/bhUta (the body) and प्राण/prANa (the life). The first Veda says, "He who appears as a man has a woman inherent in him and she who appears as a woman is as much a man." If the Vedas are too esoteric, a lower vehicle of the Puranas may be considered. The Ardhanārīshwara here symbolises at once both the power of renunciation and asceticism and the blessings of marital felicity.

It would take an outrageously blunt brain to read the above as an ode to eunuchs. Who eunuchs are according to biology has already been explained and how the English language defines eunuchs has already been pointed out.

Research's argument # 3:
Islam forbids homosexuality, but the 'expert' didn't give citations

One of the panelists in the debate on the court judgment on Times Now was Kamal Farouqui, Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission. He vehemently opposed the idea of homosexuality being natural and declared, "No Muslim will ever accept it." He was right. If you are a Muslim, you cannot defy the Qur'an. In the holy book, Surah 7:80-84 says:

سُوۡرَةُ الاٴعرَاف
وَلُوطًا إِذۡ قَالَ لِقَوۡمِهِۦۤ أَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلۡفَـٰحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِہَا مِنۡ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٨٠) إِنَّڪُمۡ لَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَہۡوَةً۬ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ‌ۚ بَلۡ أَنتُمۡ قَوۡمٌ۬ مُّسۡرِفُونَ (٨١) وَمَا ڪَانَ جَوَابَ قَوۡمِهِۦۤ إِلَّآ أَن قَالُوٓاْ أَخۡرِجُوهُم مِّن قَرۡيَتِڪُمۡ‌ۖ إِنَّهُمۡ أُنَاسٌ۬ يَتَطَهَّرُونَ (٨٢) فَأَنجَيۡنَـٰهُ وَأَهۡلَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا ٱمۡرَأَتَهُ ۥ كَانَتۡ مِنَ ٱلۡغَـٰبِرِينَ (٨٣) وَأَمۡطَرۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم مَّطَرً۬ا‌ۖ فَٱنظُرۡ ڪَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ (٨٤)

wa lūţāan 'idh qāla liqawmihi 'ata'tūna al-fāĥishata mā sabaqakum bihā min 'aĥadin mina al-`ālamīna//80//
'innakum lata'tūna ar-rijāla shahwatan min dūni an-nisā' bal 'antum qawmun musrifūna//81//
wa mā kāna jawāba qawmihi 'illā 'an qālū 'akhrijūhum min qaryatikum 'innahum 'unāsun yataţahharūn//82//
fa'anjaynāhu wa 'ahlahu 'illā amra'atahu kānat mina al-ghābirīna//83//
wa 'amţarnā `alayhim maţarāan fānžur kayfa kāna `
āqibatu al-mujrimīna//84//

Translation: Al-Araf — And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you? (80) Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk. (81) And the answer of his people was only that they said (one to another): Turn them out of your township. They are folk, forsooth, who keep pure. (82) And We rescued him and his household, save his wife, who was of those who stayed behind. (83) And We rained a rain upon them. See now the nature of the consequence of evil-doers! (84)

Surah 11:78-81:
سُوۡرَةُ هُود
وَجَآءَهُ ۥ قَوۡمُهُ ۥ يُہۡرَعُونَ إِلَيۡهِ وَمِن قَبۡلُ كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ‌ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوۡمِ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ بَنَاتِى هُنَّ أَطۡهَرُ لَكُمۡ‌ۖ فَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَلَا تُخۡزُونِ فِى ضَيۡفِىٓ‌ۖ أَلَيۡسَ مِنكُمۡ رَجُلٌ۬ رَّشِيدٌ۬ (٧٨) قَالُواْ لَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتَ مَا لَنَا فِى بَنَاتِكَ مِنۡ حَقٍّ۬ وَإِنَّكَ لَتَعۡلَمُ مَا نُرِيدُ (٧٩) قَالَ لَوۡ أَنَّ لِى بِكُمۡ قُوَّةً أَوۡ ءَاوِىٓ إِلَىٰ رُكۡنٍ۬ شَدِيدٍ۬ (٨٠) قَالُواْ يَـٰلُوطُ إِنَّا رُسُلُ رَبِّكَ لَن يَصِلُوٓاْ إِلَيۡكَ‌ۖ فَأَسۡرِ بِأَهۡلِكَ بِقِطۡعٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلَّيۡلِ وَلَا يَلۡتَفِتۡ مِنڪُمۡ أَحَدٌ إِلَّا ٱمۡرَأَتَكَ‌ۖ إِنَّهُ ۥ مُصِيبُہَا مَآ أَصَابَہُمۡ‌ۚ إِنَّ مَوۡعِدَهُمُ ٱلصُّبۡحُ‌ۚ أَلَيۡسَ ٱلصُّبۡحُ بِقَرِيبٍ۬ (٨١)

wa jā'ahu qawmuhu yuhra`ūna 'Ilayhi wa min qablu kānū ya`malūna as-sayyi'āti qāla yā qawmi hā'uulā' banātī hunna 'aţharu lakum fa attaqū Allāha wa lā tukhzūnī fī Đayfī 'alaysa minkum rajulun rashīdun//78//
qālū laqad `alimta mā lanā fī banātika min Ĥaqqin wa 'innaka lata`lamu mā nurīdu//79//
qāla law 'anna lī bikum qūwatan 'aw '
āwī 'Ilá ruknin shadīdin//80//
qālū yā lūţu 'innā rusulu rabbika lan yaşilū 'ilayka fa'asri bi'ahlika biqiţ`in mina al-layli wa lā yaltafit minkum 'aĥadun 'illā amra'ataka 'innahu muşībuhā mā 'aşābahum 'inna maw`idahumu aş-
şubĥu 'alaysa aş-şubĥu biqarībin//81//

Translation: Hud — And his people came unto him, running towards him - and before then they used to commit abominations - He said: O my people! Here are my daughters! They are purer for you. Beware of Allah, and degrade me not in (the presence of) my guests. Is there not among you any upright man? (78) They said: Well thou knowest that we have no right to thy daughters, and well thou knowest what we want. (79) He said: Would that I had strength to resist you or had some strong support (among you)! (80) (The messengers) said: O Lot! Lo! we are messengers of thy Lord; they shall not reach thee. So travel with thy people in a part of the night, and let not one of you turn round - (all) save thy wife. Lo! that which smiteth them will smite her (also). Lo! their tryst is (for) the morning. Is not the morning nigh? (81)

Lot (other spelling/phone: Lut/lut/; not pronounced as the English word "lot"; the 'o' here is close-mid back rounded vowel, and the 't' is voiceless, emphatic, alveolar stop), a nephew of Ibrahim/Abraham, appears as one of the earlier prophets in the Qur'an*. When a Muslim needs to be explained by the clergy as to why or how Islam is against homosexuality, Lot's instance is given.

[*The Biblical account of Lot/Lut is different]
There used to be two cities Sodom and Gomorrah where people were believed to be homosexuals. According to the Islamic belief, Allah sent three angels disguised as handsome men to Lot, who pleaded helplessness in protecting them. The men of the two cities were overjoyed at the arrival of three new 'preys'. Lot offered his men his daughters and pleaded with his folk to spare the three boys, but they wouldn't listen. The angels then revealed their identity to Lot and asked him to leave the place, deserting his wife (who was not deemed 'pure'). Lot left. The next morning the two cities were found completely destroyed. Islamic legend has it that Allah turned those places "upside down" and "rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread layer on layer".
This writer's point is not why Farouqui did not turn his speech theological; that could have been over the top. My point is, he could have just mentioned what he said had the backing of the Qur'an so as not to leave any doubt in the minds of Muslims. And the message to the TV show anchor is: Why argue with someone, the terms of whose holy book are non-negotiable? Extremist and moderate Muslims do interpret their religion differently. But it's not likely any practising Muslim will come up in support of the acts of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Research's argument # 4:
The Christian argument is more sophisticated; the clergy avoids sounding dogmatic

In Islam, settlement of a dispute is a three-stage process. First find out what the Qur'an says about the issue. If there exists no comparable instance in the Book, try finding analogies from the Prophet's life (the Hadith). If even from there you do not get much clue, call a body of clerics to arbitrate on the issue. The Catholic Church, as has been observed since the time it was witnessed that an overwhelming majority of Christians were ready to believe only what was scientific, does not work that way.

The head of an archdiocese is not likely to say he, being a true Christian, is helpless because the Testament forbids homosexuality. Interestingly, God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah according to the Old Testament too (19:4-5, 24, 25). Paul condemns homosexuals (gays as well as lesbians) in the New Testament as well (To the Romans: 1:26-28).
Some scholars say the Bible is not a translation of the original Old Testament as the Hebrew used in that era is not known to anybody in the present-day world. The translation was offered by Masorites in the 10th century after adding vowels to the original words. Original Hebrew had only 22 consonants and no vowel.

The New Testament was written most probably in Aramaic, the language Jesus and people of Judea spoke at his time. Aramaic is similar but not identical to Hebrew. The New Testament in Greek is a translation from Aramaic. Some scholars disagree; they say the available version in Koine Greek, a language that used to be spoken in the eastern regions of the Roman Empire, is the original one.
Following is the New Testament text referred to above (Original and undisputed Hebrew text of the Old Testament could not be obtained):

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας. αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσι τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες. 28 Καὶ καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸν Θεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς ἀδόκιμον νοῦν, ποιεῖν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα,

Translation: 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; ...

Today, the Catholic clergy, appearing on TV, wouldn't tread the path of persuading believers in the name of the Lord. He would compile the results of several researches conducted by various reputed universities and quote the most convenient portions to forward the Church's argument, a piece of evidence of which has been provided in the section on science above. If a journalist must interview a Catholic head on the issue, it should either be on print or, if it has to be on TV, the anchor's homework should be thorough. That homework, of course, is not possible without some grinding in science education. But it's not too difficult. There are not more than two dozen odd writers whom the Church quotes. So, read their conclusions, keep a stack of the hard copies on the desk as a ready reckoner, and you are ready to conduct the interview.
[The Protestant clergy is conspicuous by his absence on Indian TV.]
But much more experienced than Times Now's Goswami, even NDTV's Roy did not make the effort. In the debate on 2 July on NDTV, Roy, going against his normally calm and composed demeanour, thundered at Abraham Mathai, deputy chairman of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission, "Who are you to decide what is moral?" If the BBC is any standard, one has never heard its anchor inviting somebody to a discussion and then questioning, "Who are you?" If the interviewee is of no consequence, why was he invited in the first place? Second, by any journalistic and civilised standard, "who are you?" is too rude a question to throw at anybody in any verbal exchange except when the questioner is not well versed in English language and culture, which is not Roy's case. His education and long stay in England during his formative years makes his choice of phrase ironical. Third, anybody who has an opinion can be asked, "Who are you (to have this opinion)?" If a representative of a body of people is called and then asked, "Who are you to say it is morally wrong for somebody else?" (the exact words of Roy), it raises a very fundamental question: How does a democracy function? How do you speak to a crowd? You have to speak to a representative of the crowd. Isn't it that simple? TV journalists don't think so; they ask this question to all representatives of people every other day on every other channel. Fourth, let nobody have an opinion; let science be the decider; let politically correct journalists read science.

***

Conclusion
It cannot be expected of everyone to follow science or religion as if one were obsessed. What hurts is the absence of an appreciation of nuance in journalists who are the most visible in India today. Perhaps they merely represent a common malaise in society where few get it right, where few understand what the statement of a person means exactly. Careful, patient hearing should do away with the question, "What do you mean?" As for senior television presenters, this question mirrors more of the prejudice they imbibed through Western education that sees everything political as left or right, between which every difference is irreconcilable. You take a scientific view and you will be called an atheist. You support some aspect of religion and you will be found a subscriber of dogma. The respective markets that the two clubs cater to forces an English media journalist, who may not have a thorough knowledge of science, to take the risk of being labelled an 'atheist'; and it forces a representative of a religious body, much as he may not know everything about his religion, to take the risk of sounding like an 'obscurantist'. Some, like the Catholic clerics on TV, try being a crossover and end up looking silly.

Till the time this condition prevails, the biggest casualty will be truth, especially the truth that is defined as the latest knowledge of science. The problem is, even those who swear by science get emotionally attached to certain discoveries and when that science is replaced by yet another set of discoveries, these people are reluctant to let the old go.

That homosexuality is natural was the latest knowledge in 1973. That it may not be so was indicated in 2001. At the moment, the position of science is not known with finality; more pieces of evidence are accumulating on the not-natural side though. Unfortunately, though some doctors have tried turning homosexuals into heterosexuals, not much effort is being made to redress abnormalities like congenital adrenal hyperplasia or maintain prenatal androgens in adequate measure or maintain the normal size of some vital neurons in the anterior hypothalamus. The focus in the labs is more on 'why and how it happens?' and not on 'now that we know why and how it happens, let's fix it'.

As for law, irrespective of what science says, homosexuals must be treated as equal citizens. Prannoy Roy equates this stand to "sitting on the fence". The Naz Foundation finds it paradoxical. That again is a failure to appreciate nuance. 'Give me the whole of it, or I'll take nothing' is a misplaced demand to make to religion. The ball is not in the cleric's court; it is in the scientist's.

Surajit Dasgupta

39 comments:

Palak Mathur said...

I agree with whatever you tried to project. I have also gone through Dr Robert L Spitzer's to know what exactly is the meaning and viability of homosexuality. Though I am not against the right to equality of status and opportunity and as per Article 21, right to life, however, the concept of homosexuality is still not digestable though I am indifferent to two individuals doing an act in private.

As far as media is concerned and the debates going on the issue, I find that these debates should have started the day when Section 377 was implemented or when we were drafting our consitution. Also, the agenda of these debates and participants I think are people who want to showcase their progressive and modern outlook though in truth they might not be the same. They fail to appreciate the essence of debate and just try to portray themselves as modernistic.

Rajarshi Ranjan Nandy said...

A great article. You have pretty much captured all aspects of the debate and exposed the essential hollowness of our new age talk-show inspired 'liberalism'. Neither the journalists, nor their invited, decorated guests have any sort of grasp on the facts.This is as ridiculous as three blind men discussing Vincent van Gogh's brush strokes!
Worst still is their (journalist's)tendency to present their personal opinions - often uneducated opinions - as facts coupled with a visible air of arrogance on television, which in the long run makes the viewer openly distrustful of such obviously biased news reporting.

Coming to the topic of homosexuals, if homosexuality is not natural as of now (biologically), what is the hurry in giving it a legal stamp? Then why not legalize incest, bestiality etc other forms of deviant behaviour? Or prostitution for that matter? After all, taking a cue from one of the common refrains of the gay rights activists, it's about 'consenting adults'. However, if someone argues that incest, or bestiality is perversion, well then so is being a homosexual since science has not yet proved that there is anything natural about homosexuality.



Can NDTV answer these questions?

Biplab Pal said...

Of late I am frustrated to see that some 'ist' be it femminist or gay right activists are forcing science to be 'politically correct' which is a very bad trend because science is dialectical truth. It looks for evidence and not politics.

Thanks for nice article. I knew the science of homosexuality and was taking some time off..this article was great help to me..

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Friends,

Thank you for your responses. I think Rajarshi needs to be corrected a bit. The exposition above clearly says that the science known so far to us is inconclusive as to whether homosexuality is natural or not. What it has told us in no uncertain terms is that homosexuality can set in at the foetal stage. And that certainly is an abnormality, be it congenital adrenal hyperplasia in case of lesbians, or surplus prenatal androgens in case of hyper-masculine gays, or the size of some vital neurons in the anterior hypothalamus being half that of the same neurons in heterosexual foetuses in case of hypo-masculine gays. Since doctors have acknowledged these three conditions to be disorders, they must now try to treat them.

As for the 'gay gene', it was a classic example of news that wasn't. This is what happens when some editors think science is not 'newsy' enough and push reluctant political affairs reporters into the beat.

And yes, Spitzer is a wronged scientist.

But if the delirium on TV was misplaced, so will the responses to my exposition be if it is inferred that I have proved homosexuality is unnatural. I have not. I am waiting for the final results, which is not likely to come very soon. Remember, science is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Rajarshi Ranjan Nandy said...

But if the delirium on TV was misplaced, so will the responses to my exposition be if it is inferred that I have proved homosexuality is unnatural. I have not. I am waiting for the final results, which is not likely to come very soon. Remember, science is evolutionary, not revolutionary.


I perfectly understand this, and that is precisely why I am asking what is need to legislate, decriminalize homosexuality? When it has not been proved either way?

I am not saying it natural or not natural, I am saying as per the evidences in your blog, as of now, there is no proof that is natural. Then, why hurry into a decision? Untill something is scientifically proved natural (that is, it is not a deformity/abnormality), then in common parlance it has to be taken as "unnnatural" - however, politically incorrect it sounds.

Therefore, comes the comparison with other forms of deviant behaviour which are still considered a taboo.

Sanket said...

Very detailed and erudite exposition. Secondly, it seems natural that many people become homosexuals due to force of circumstances. If American popular fiction is any indication of their society, the proportion of gays among prison dwellers is much higher than the proportion of gays among general public. Gay behavior was common in ancient Greece where people spent a lot of time with people of the same sex from tender ages.

Rajan Kumar said...

First of all Thanks for this informative article.

You have placed the real facts of Indian society as your argument. I totally agree with your projection and very concept of Homosexuality.


This article has burst the arguments of English media and liberal’s, whose argument were misplaced socially, religiously and scientifically. This article also exposes the hollowness of liberals and English media.


The explanation of homosexual behavior in animals is impressive and burst the arguments of Homosexuals/ Liberals.

The reference of HIZRA and their deeds are well explained. One can see their Vulgarity on trains. You will find maximum of converts during those tortures on train with vulgar make ups. Recently I was traveling from Chennai to Ranchi. A gang of Hizra entered the 3AC bogie and started their vulgar exposures and Extortion and soon every thing crossed the Limit and Three of those Hizra Gang was beaten mercilessly.

I don’t understand how Decriminalizing is not equal to being legal. After all Illegal act is criminal offence!!

Your article should be an eye- opener for English “Politically Correct” Hollow Media.

Dr Sandeep Kumar said...

Your article is brilliant. It's descriptive and easy to understand. You have researched a lot on the subject of homosexuality.

Among several other incidents of the type in developed countries, the California State Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8 belies the general notion in India that homosexuality is being accepted easily or spontaneously in the West. The court upheld the ban on gay marriage in the State after voters used a referendum to overturn an earlier ruling in favour of recognising homosexual weddings. Proposition 8 was the name given to the original vote that imposed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union "between a man and a woman" in the State's constitution. It passed in November 2008 with 52% of the ballots in favour.

You mentioned in your exposition a plethora of researchers who are actively exploring this subject, notably Dr Spitzer. Indeed, as you have pointed out, it is still a matter of intense research in psychiatry. What we read now is homosexuality is not a perversion and is entirely normal; even stray homosexual behaviours in life are considered normal.

The Delhi High Court verdict should motivate research on this topic in India. It will be a challenge to scientists as many homosexuals are not known publicly or are closeted. Many of them get married to individuals of the opposite sex willingly or unwillingly. What happens to their sexual orientation thereafter? Does it change or they live a strained sexual life? Indian marriages are bounded by strong laws of society. Overcoming the taboo, people as much as scientists should study how a homosexual individual survives his/her heterosexual marriage, and what fate the marriage meets with?

Regarding religion, I personally haven't came across any evidence of homosexuality in Hinduism but I have always believed that Hindus' have been a guilt-free society with regard to sex unlike Christianity, for example. I am happy that overall the Indian society is not enslaved by its scriptures.

These are the thoughts that struck me after reading your exposition for the first time. I may comment further after a second reading.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

My conversation with Dr Sandeep Kumar after he posted the above:

SK: You wrote, "The focus in the labs is more on 'why and how it happens?' and not on 'now that we know why and how it happens, let's fix it'." Why focus on fixing it? Rather focus on proving it a disorder first.
SD:
Well, congenital adrenal hyperplasia in case of lesbians, extra prenatal androgens in case of hyper-masculine gays and the size of some vital neurons in the anterior hypothalamus being half that of the same neurons in heterosexual foetuses in case of hypo-masculine gays are already considered abnormalities or disorders at the foetal stage, aren't they? So why are R&D labs not trying to treat these anomalies by administering some invented drugs or some invasive therapy targeted at the pregnant woman's uterus? Does this sound naïve?

SK: This does not sound naive at all. However, I am not sure whether you are concerned about homosexual tendencies developed due to some medical disorder, which should be fixed by scientists.
SD:
Let me make it clearer. For instance, if androgen levels are unusually high in a foetus because the woman had had several sons before this one, can't the gynaecologist take some special measures to address the issue?

SK: Your ideas are right if you are saying that CAH should be treated early, at the foetal stage, to avoid complications in the social life of the girl after she is born.

In other words, if abnormal secretion of hormones during prenatal life threatens to lead to homosexual tendencies in postnatal life, it should be tackled at the origin of the cause.

But I still don't get what YOU think should be fixed: a medical disorder or homosexual tendencies?
SD:
The first, for sure. The second cannot be fixed if it is established that the person was born homosexual. That is, if it is proved that homosexuality crept in at the foetal stage, then the person is entitled to argue that he/she was "born" homosexual.

But if the case is that of a person in whom homosexuality was triggered by an incident after birth -- there are such instances too -- then certainly behavioural therapy will help.

SK: That clears the confusion. When a person says he/she is a homosexual, he/she must qualify the description. I suggest you include this in your blog.

Anusheel said...

Your post was very informative indeed.Inspired by your research, i did a bit a research myself to see what the gay activists have to say about this. i would like to know your views on the following doubts that i encountered:

1. You have written about homosexual behaviour in animals,in which you say - "In short, given a choice, no animal remains homosexual all its life. If it does, the choice did not exist."
However, i read about penguins a few days back,and the article said - "penguin species where same-sex individuals mate for life and refuse to pair with females when given the chance." Some zoo in germany even conducted some experiment but was unable to separate the male couples.(if u want i can give the link) So, does this not counter your view.I would like to know your views on this.

2.Religion - "The Vedas, which form the foundation of Hinduism for many, do not refer explicitly to homosexuality, but Rigveda says Vikruti Evam Prakriti (perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, or, what seems un-natural is also natural), which some scholars believe recognizes homosexual/transsexual dimensions of human life." I think this is a very important point, which strengthens the gay communities argument. However, i found it missing in your article.

Please dont misunderstand me,I dont have any intensions of proving you wrong or anything,I am myself looking for answers and would like your help for the same.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Dear Anusheel,

You have raised two pertinent questions, albeit with some oversight. I did explain right after the sentence you have quoted, "When one comes across gay partners for life in the animal kingdom, they are cases where neither partner could successfully invade the harem of an alpha male after overpowering the 'ruler'." I must add that just as in the case of human beings, even in certain species of animals, there is a problem with 'walking out of a relationship', which has got to be an emotionally straining proposition and, hence, inhibitive after prolonged accompaniment. The example that strikes me immediately is that of Australian parakeets; they stay faithful to their respective partners all their lives.

The choice of partner must arrive at one's life, especially if it's an animal, before he/she is past his/her prime. After years of togetherness, how do you expect a pair to part ways, irrespective of the partners' sexual orientation?

To answer your second question, I must first clarify that the conclusion of my exposition is neither that homosexuality is natural nor that it is unnatural. It's actually a wrong choice of antonyms. Of course, going by numbers, the terms "normal" and "abnormal" can be used. To use Sanskrit equivalents, I would invoke the words सामान्य and असामान्य rather than प्राकृतिक and अप्राकृतिक or कृत्रिम (artificial). Doing justice to scientific temper, there is no question of refusing to accept abnormality, or विकृति as you have put it. I have stated what conditions are विकृत (abnormal) [ref: the foetal conditions]; I didn't say I refuse to accept them. But then, if medical researchers accept those conditions as abnormal, why are they not trying either prevention or cure, is my question. To make the nuance clearer, once born, a homosexual can claim to be a born homosexual; but will it be a case of impropriety in medical science to ask for the treatment of a foetus that has the potential of turning homosexual, in the first trimester of conception?

As for the homosexuals in our midst, I have explained that the news of a gay gene was bunkum, betraying the zeal of some medically illiterate journalists. Genetic studies of sexual orientation is a developing science. I cannot comment on either of the claims (whether homosexuality is genetic or not) because I don't know. And I don't know because science hasn't let us know. So far.

I conclude by saying that whatever be the outcome of the exploration, society must accept it, handicapped neither by religious orthodoxy nor political correctness.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Addendum:

Till the time science reaches the conclusion as to whether homosexuality is genetic or not, we cannot sit in judgement to declare that the treatment of post-natal gays and lesbians is a proper or improper idea to nurture or process to try out.

Rajeswari said...

The author's painstaking effort in compiling this very well researched piece merits special appreciation.

Indians by and large are too sensitive and this behavioural pattern are visible under every circumstances .The moment an average Indian hears the term 'Homo' , a taboo gesture could be transparent in his/her face ;and the percentage of population who are ready to accept the homosexuals as a part of our society may be abysmally lower;the reason being a vast majority of the people lead a 'frog in the well' life.While delivering the verdict of decriminilising,the court could have issued a directive to conduct a scientific research on the related subjects.This can avoid further chaos that are gonna pop up in the coming days in the name of 'personal liberty'.However, an implied duty on the shoulders of scientists cannot be ruled out;the science/rationale behind homosexuality should be researched.Besides, the counselling/treatment that could 'change' a homosexual individual should be explored in all possible ways.

In what way the spokesperson of various religion(clergy men) qualify to debate on this subject?I am not questioning their knowledge on religious texts.How many religious and political leaders lead a life free from immoral activities?Those clergy men who rejects homosexuality on the basis of moral grounds are not supposed to keep muted in the case of extra marital affairs.Homosexuality;in comparison to extra marital affairs and prostitution is a lesser evil.The immoral trafficking bill is pending in the parliament since the beginning of 2008.Majority of the male MP's favour legalising prostitution owing to some rationale.Whereas few MP's (female) are against legalising prostitution.Some religion forbids homosexuality; whereas some others don't.Religious leaders who makes a hue and cry against decriminalizing homosexuals on MORAL grounds must think twice about prostitution and other immoral activities that are jogging in our society.

No law can curtail the right to equality and every individual should be treated without discrimination irrespective of their sexual orientation.Albeit, the law should not act in haste with respect to granting the rights for homsexual individuals to adopt child.A child has to be be brought up together by a MAN and a WOMAN.Scientists may come up with new and newer theories or the law may change its stand in the course of time.Nevertheless there are some 'inherent feelings' which cannot be proved by a science or law.A child always needs a mother's pampering and a father's guidance.No thought or theory can change that.

Finally the journalists should give up their ' know -it -all' attitude and 'jump the gun behaviour'

@Sandeep.. The chances of survival of a homosexual individual in a heterosexual marriage is poor.Many of the marriages ends in divorce.

@Surajit, If a person is 'born homosexual' , what is the probability of overcoming their homosexual nature?

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Rajeswari,

Like insurance, treatment should be a subject matter of solicitation.

And a person can, as per the scientific findings so far, be born a homosexual, unless you consider the moment of fertilisation/conception to be the time of a person's birth. Homosexuality is found to set in at the end of the second month of some foetuses; when these children are born, they are right in declaring themselves as born homosexuals. So I don't quite understand your putting the expression in quotes.

Of course, there are cases of another type also -- the kind that encourages religionists to talk of 'treatment' -- where an incident in one's life triggers a different sexual orientation in the subject.

There is a third type as well. I wanted to make the piece rich with citations, but couldn't find credible websites that could be linked to my passages on the type. Hence, I avoided its mention. If the mother has a certain critical medical condition during pregnancy, it may alter the to-be-born child's sexual orientation. For details, refer to the essay, "The effects of prenatal stress, and of prenatal alcohol and nicotine exposure, on human sexual orientation," by L Ellis and S Cole-Harding that appeared in the 2001 edition of Physiology and Behavior. The issue is dealt with in pages 74 and 213–226. If you are a paid member of JSTOR or PUBMED, you can access the dissertation, "Prenatal stress as possible aetiogenetic factor of homosexuality in human males," by G Dörner, T Geier, L Ahrens, L Krell, G Münx, H Sieler, E Kittner and H Müller, and/or "Stressful events in prenatal life of bi- and homosexual men" by the same authors. They were published in 1980 and 1983 respectively.

A young lawyer said...

On law:
I am glad that you consider that the Delhi High Court decision in Naz Foundation v. Union of India is essentially correct. That should, hopefully, save us a lot of time. Further, although I completely agree with you when you say that scientific research should not be affected by what you call "political correctness", I think you go too far in your allegations of the "charged atmosphere of political correctness".

Argument 1, while correct in stating that all laws can potentially be abused, ignores the fact that this was one law which was abused more than most - you mention it, but do not seem to think it important - why is that so? However, it was not the case that the mere potential for abuse was what caused the HC to read down s.377, it was because s.377, as it applied to consensual adult sexual activities, was violative of fundamental rights. Your references to "burdens of guilt" and getting "monkeys off our shoulders", is, therefore, misplaced. What needs to be replaced is not just a medieval ethos, but an unconstitutional law, and that is a monkey on every Indian's back. Furthermore, I hardly agree that only people from small-towns etc. condemn homosexuality, in today's society. I have seen well-educated upper-class urban Indians do the same. What is important is that these outdated beliefs no longer have legal backing. And while I agree that the beliefs of small-town cops will take time to change, the large-scale publicity afforded to the HC judgment can only help in spreading awareness that they can no longer practice the same high-handedness with persons of non-normative sexualities. Even if they think that they are above the law or that they are too far from the reach of the law to really care, they will know that no place is too far from the media glare.


Argument 2 is also misplaced in trying to enunciate a difference between decriminalisation and legalisation. No such distinction exists in law. In law, it is either criminal to do an act or it is not. If it is not, that act is perfectly legal. Therefore, no court on this planet has the power to order that a certain act or classes of acts is/are "legal", just that they are NOT illegal because classifying them as illegal would be unconstitutional. In fact, the very idea that the Delhi HC "decriminalised" homosexuality is misplaced. The Delhi HC held that the extension of s.377 to consensual adult sexual activities was unconstitutional. No more, but certainly, no less. While this has the effect The Delhi HC of decriminalising adult consensual homosexuality, that was not the substance of the Delhi HC's order. The Delhi HC is not empowered to make declarations on the legality of an act - that is the domain of the Legislature. (Ask yourself this - can any Court, even the Supreme Court create new criminal laws? Can it, for example, decide, tomorrow, that smoking is illegal per se? Of course not. This is because it is not the domain of the judiciary to decide on such matters of legality/illegality, but only on matters of legal interpretation, enforcement and of constitutional propriety.) This is why the Delhi HC's order did not, for example, read "Homosexuality is now decriminalised" nor "Homosexuality is now legal", this was how the newspapers chose to read it. The Delhi HC is, however, empowered to hold that where the Legislature has declared a particular act illegal, that the same is unconstitutional, and that is what it did do.

Whether this decision will now afford homosexual couples the right to marry or to adopt etc., is a different question altogether. There are several relationships which are not illegal, but are not allowed to marry under Indian law as it stands (incestuous ones, for example). Therefore, the mere fact that Indian law, as it now stands, is not yet clar on the rights of marriage or adoption of homosexual couples is no argument for its lack of legality, as you make it out to be.

A young lawyer said...

Of course, the decision of the Delhi HC would be a great step forward in assuring homosexual couples such rights, and I, for one, would argue that it would be a violation of fundamental rights not to allow them these rights. Supreme Court precedents exist to state that the right to marriage is as much a fundamental right as the right to privacy under article 21, and that the same article also protects the right to secular adoption. The Delhi HC was not empowered to decide these questions, and in keeping with judicial propriety, they did not. But they will come up for debate soon, and I look forward to the day when India grants its LGBT population the same rights as it does its heterosexual population. I do not deny that your social arguments against the right of homosexuals to adopt are good ones - the social stigma will, doubtless, be there. However, one could have said the same for inter-caste and inter-racial marriages not so long ago. Merely because it would be socially inconvenient to deny some people their fundamental rights is no reason to do so. In fact, the very fact that inter-caste and inter-racial marriages were not held up on grounds such as these some 50 or 60 years ago, is part of the reason that they are (grudgingly) accepted in today's society. One cannot stem the tide, nor should we. This is why I cannot agree with you that it is not the Court's place to change society - because it is a fundamental mis-statement of what the Court is doing. The Court is upholding fundamental rights - no more, no less. If that means going against the tide of society, then so be it. But a Court which has been charged with protecting constitutional values should not (it cannot) stand by while society abuses the constitutional rights of others, it must step in.


Argument 3 is completely incorrect. While the media interpretations ("decriminalising"/"legalising" homosexuality) are not entirely incorrect (the Delhi HC decision does have such an effect), the Delhi HC judgment did much more than that - the decision of the Delhi HC that the extension of 377 to adult consensual sexual activity was unconstitutional, does not affect merely homosexual non-penile-vaginal sexual activity (that is to say, oral and anal sex and sex with sex toys etc.) but also to heterosexual non-penile-vaginal sexual activity. While one argument of the Court (that Article 15 covers the right to sexual orientation, and therefore, affords persons the right to be a homosexual) is directed towards homosexuality, the other (that Article 21 covers the right to privacy in terms of sexual intercourse between consenting adults without interference) is not. Since the Delhi HC held that 377 violated both 15 and 21, 377 cannot apply to either heterosexual OR homosexual non penile-vaginal sexual intercourse. Therefore, your idea that the Delhi HC "refused to lift the applicability of Section 377 of the IPC from non-vaginal sex" is, to a large extent, misplaced.

What does 377 govern after the Delhi HC judgment? It is now limited to:
1. sex between children (whether penile-vaginal or not)
2. non penile-vaginal sex between children and adults (whether consensual or not, thus making the distinction between rape u/s 376 and unnatural offences u/s 377)
3. sex between animals and human beings (whether penile-vaginal or not), and
4. between non-consenting adults (making the distinction between rape u/s 376 and unnatural offences u/s 377, since for 376, penile-vaginal penetration is required)

Therefore, your argument is correct only (and this is an important only) as far as the non penile-vaginal sex applies to intercourse involving children, or involving the lack of consent (note the fact that the Delhi HC order holds that 377 is unconstitutional to the extent that it applies to adult consensual sexual intercourse); your argument is not correct where the non penile-vaginal sexual intercourse occurs between consenting adult human beings.

A young lawyer said...

Further, you have stated that the Delhi HC judgment is limited to the territory of Delhi. This raises a very interesting legal question. Theoretically, state HC's only have jurisdiction over their respective states and in that much, you are correct. However, what would happen if one state HC held a provision of a Central law unconstitutional and another state HC held it to be constitutional? Would that Central law be valid in every state but that one state where it had been held unconstitutional? This as a question which came up before the SC in a case regarding the validity of the Companies Amendment Act 2002, which created the National Companies Law Tribunal, and dispensed with the Company Law Board. The Tamil Nadu HC held that the amendment was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the SC. In the SC, counsel requested the COurt to issue interim orders regarding the validity of the Amendment Act in other states. Having heard arguments of counsel, the Court held, in what I believe was an unpublished opinion, that in such cases, in keeping with judicial comity and the notion that ALL High Courts are Constitutional Courts, invested with as much power to protect the Constitution as the Supreme Court itself, such orders regarding the unconstitiionality of the Amendment Act would be in effect in the entire country until and unless the SC ordered otherwise. If a HC had occasion to disagree with another HC on this matter, they should refrain from ruling on the question, transferring the matter to the SC instead. Therefore, in effect, the Delhi HC judgment is, in fact, binding all over India, atleast until the Sc judgment comes along.

In such case, Argument 4 becomes irrelevant.

I whole-heartedly endorse your Argument 5 to the extent that the Delhi HC order would help in assuring HIV patients of treatement regardless of their sexual orientation without fear of discrimination or police oppression. However, I do not understand why you think the anomalous nature of available Indian statistics deserves comment. Obviously, being counted as a statistic means coming out to someone, with all the associated risks. This would have made collecting statistics on homosexuality or HIV in India, pre-Naz Foundation, extremely difficult. Hopefully, this will change.

I will respond to your other arguments after reading the articles you have cited.

On Science:
Argument 1 - I do not think a complicated exposition is required here. All the criticisms that I, and others on Orkut, had levelled against the study you champion still ring true - it was not peer-reviewed, it used biased sampling data (in fact it was actually fed "volunteers" by religious organizations espousing the cause of sexual conversion!), the methods used for sexual conversion were, to say the least unethical (religious and emotional blackmail, no less!) and the results of success misreported. You can read it all here and here, although I think there's no need for that. The article is quite obviously deeply flawed, both methodologically, and substantively.

Argument 2 and 4 and 5 - Again, I remember having cited several articles which showed that, as far as statistics are available, wild animals (I see a comment includes evidence of captive animals too), as well as humans show evidence of substantial bisexuality as well as some amounts of homosexuality. In particular, I remember citing a UN survey which showed that regardless of the availability of sex workers and wives, a large portion of Indian males chose to be actively homosexual as well as heterosexual (in effect, to be bisexual). Again, I remember having cited several articles which showed that while it was not certain whether homosexuality was caused due to hormonal, psychological or sociological reasons, it was caused innately and was immutable, with all or some of the above named factors playing a role in each case, with their importance in each case varying from case to case.

A young lawyer said...

While I would like to give you further particulars in this regard, I would merely be repeating myself. Further, since my work in this regard (co-authored with a friend and colleague) is currently being considered for publication by a major publishing house, I cannot release the same for general viewing without his consent, and he has withheld his consent.


Argument 3 - This means less than nothing. Are you saying that because of alleged errors in classifying a particular group, that non-normative sexualities do not deserve constitutional protection? These are irrelevant issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with the Delhi HC judgment.

Argument 6 - Again, so what? Of course, you miss the point that non-normative sexualities are not always as easy to classify - not all such relationships take the form you have described, but even if they do, so what?

Argument 7 - I have not seen these programmes and cannot comment on them. However, and again, so what? Does this change the fact that non-normative sexualities deserve constitutional protection?

Argument 8 - I agree

On religion:
Argument 1 and 2 - While this is hardly my territory, I do believe that there are several more examples than the one you cite. One that springs to mind from my childhood memories is that of Brihannala, where Arjuna either pretended to be (or was?) a transgendered male. As I remember, in this instance, he was tested as a transgendered male not only by all the ladies of the Court, but by Maharaja Virata himself, and that not only did they accept Brihannala's transgendered status, they did not ridicule or condemn him/her, but invited him/her to be a honoured favourite in the chambers of the King and his Princess Uttara.
And what about Mohini, the female avatar of Vishnu, who seduced both the asuras and (or was raped by) Shiva himself? While one version states that Vishnu retains his male identity and only plays the part of a female (making his actions that of a homoerotic cross-dresser), another states that even in his female version, he retains the memory of his masculinity (again, the homoerotic overtones are quite unambiguous). Even Krishna assumes a feminine role to marry Aravan. And it is not as if these cross-dressing and trans-gendered examples are found only in Indian mythology - there are distinct examples in Greek, Roman and Norse myth and legend.

While I do not go as far as to say that non-normative sexualities were celebrated (or even whole-heartedly accepted) in ancient times, these legends are clearly examples of social reliaties.

For more on this, see Ruth Vanita, Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society (Routledge, New York/London, 2002) and Same-Sex Love in India (Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai (eds.), Macmillan, New Delhi, 2001)

Argument 3 and 4 - While I do not dispute that Islam or versions of Chrisitianity condemn homosexuality, this only has any meaning for conservative believers. Most people of faith the world over accept and understand that living their lives exactly by the "holy word" makes little or no sense in today's day and age.

On conclusion:
While I too, bemoan the absence of nuanced understandings in today's mass media, I blame them for not understanding the actual legal issues that should have decided the debate. One example of this lack of knowledge would be that several journalists are still confused over whether the provision being debated is Section 377 or Article 377. In fact, I shudder to think that our journos do not even know the difference between the two!! Almost as bad is all the hype and hoopla over "decriminalizing" and "legalizing" homosexuality - while, as I pointed out, the actual legal effect is pretty much that, that is not what the Court did. Little or no attention has been paid to the constitutional questions involved, and no attention has been paid to the jurisprudential questions involved. These are questions I hope to address in my writings, and I will not say more on that here.

A young lawyer said...

I will, however, say this. That homosexuality was "natural" was not, as you claim, the latest knowledge in 1973. What happened in 1973 was that it was declassified as a psychiatric disease. Something can be "natural" and still be a psychiatric disease (kleptomania, for example, occurs and is caused "naturally"), and something can be "unnatural" and still not be a disease (an extra thumb, a deformed foot, a preference for poisonous lizards for lunch). And no one, except religious nutjobs (and your champion, someone who doesn't know how to conduct an unbiased study) believes otherwise. So no, more pieces of evidence are not accumulating on the not-natural side. In fact, the evidence suggests that homosexuality is caused naturally (by biological, psychological and sociological means) and is innate and immutable.

I agree that it is unfortunate that doctors have tried converting homosexuals into heterosexuals, but this is not new - Jonathan Katz has published on the unethical torture that these conversion victims have been subjected to throughout history, and the study you champion could form another part of his book, labelled religious and emotional blackmail.

I do not agree that doctors should try to control the sexual orientation of children prior to birth, as you seem to suggest - firstly, it cannot be said for certain which (if any) of the controlling factors will actually cause homosexuality prior to birth (or in fact, even after it!) - homosexuality only becomes evident at a far later stage in life - why play around with a birth (complicated enough as that is for child, mother, doctor and all concerned) with this irrelevant question of the baby's eventual sexual orientation? This stinks of eugenics.

Further, CAH has little to do with homosexuality - it may or may not be a controlling factor of sexual orientation (no unambiguous data exists); in those cases that have ambiguous genitalia caused by CAH, it does not even always control geneder identity and sexual identification. Further, I do hope that you are not suggesting that homosexuality in all homosexuals is caused by CAH?

Lastly, I care little what Mr. Prannoy Roy thinks, the Law is not meant to "sit on the fence" and watch idly while citizens are deprived of their fundamental rights on shallow legal argumentation, quasi-scientific studies and appeals to religion.

On comments:
Palak has little to contribute except his "feelings" on the subject, which I "feel" are quite irrelevant. He does, however, have an important contribution to make: "I find that these debates should have started the day when Section 377 was implemented or when we were drafting our consitution."
Perhaps Palak would care to engage a medium to get in touch with the spirit of Macaulay or Ambedkar.
A wrong is a wrong whenever that wrong was wronged, to speak euphemistically, and Article 13 of the Constitution applies just as forcefully to correct that wrong being wronged, whether that wrong is found in a pre-Constitutional law or in a law enacted yesterday, today or tomorrow.

Rajarshi has this to add: "Coming to the topic of homosexuals, if homosexuality is not natural as of now (biologically), what is the hurry in giving it a legal stamp? Then why not legalize incest, bestiality etc other forms of deviant behaviour? Or prostitution for that matter? After all, taking a cue from one of the common refrains of the gay rights activists, it's about 'consenting adults'. However, if someone argues that incest, or bestiality is perversion, well then so is being a homosexual since science has not yet proved that there is anything natural about homosexuality."

A young lawyer said...

Without commenting on his understanding of biology, I would just say that this is a question of legal validity of a statute. The question of legal validity of a statute must be judged upon (among other things) its constitutionality. Section 377 is unconstitutional and has been so ever since our Constitution came into effect (some would say, even prior to that). There has been no "hurry" in giving it a "legal stamp" - the "stamp", if any, comes almost 60 years late!
Further, my namesake cannot grasp that essential differences exist between homosexuality and the "other forms of deviant behaviour" he names.
However, he must understand that incest is NOT criminal - it is a bar to marriage, but it is not an act for which one can be prosecuted. And it is a bar to marriage because of the chance of deformed progeny, not because of the moral taboo. Another consideration is the scope for sexual abuse within the family under the guide of an incestuous relationship. (As as aside, I would like to state that I am opposed to the ban on incest marriages, as well as to the incest taboo, as long as the relationship is a consensual one between adults who will make a binding legal commitment to care for progeny, deformed as they may be.)
Neither is prostitution illegal per se. Soliciting clients for sex in public places is illegal, but prostitution in private is not.
The essential difference between bestiality and adult consensual homosexuality is the presence of consent - an animal cannot consent.

Rajeswari says "While delivering the verdict of decriminilising, the court could have issued a directive to conduct a scientific research on the related subjects.This can avoid further chaos that are gonna pop up in the coming days in the name of 'personal liberty'."
My, my, my!!! The same people who are opposed to the court taking a stand on the rights of homosexuals wants to force scientists to conduct tests!! This would be hilarious if it wasn't so hypocritical. And how exactly would the Court do this?
And if Ms. Rajeswari thinks that "personal liberty" is chaos, I would advise her to try living without it.

Rajeswari also thinks "Albeit, the law should not act in haste with respect to granting the rights for homsexual individuals to adopt child.A child has to be be brought up together by a MAN and a WOMAN.Scientists may come up with new and newer theories or the law may change its stand in the course of time.Nevertheless there are some 'inherent feelings' which cannot be proved by a science or law.A child always needs a mother's pampering and a father's guidance.No thought or theory can change that."
Undue haste? Certainly not. But jettisoning the rights of people is another question altogether. I would concede that this was a valid argument IF there was some evidence that children of homosexual homes have psychological problems. But there is no research to suggest this. What research there is, suggest that they are as "normal" as children from heterosexual homes or even single-parent homes. I find Rajeswari's comment sexist in the extreme - does she suggest that divorcees are incapable of bringing up their child alone, be they male or female? What twaddle!

As regards the other comments, and your response to them, I have already responded in my previous mails.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

The opinions expressed above by 'a young lawyer' — whom I know but whose name I wouldn't reveal on his request — are by and large, well, opinions: shorn of thorough research. I have been keeping busy for the past few months and, hence, couldn't respond to them before. I shall deal with each point raised by the lawyer shortly and back each of my counterpoints with citations from scholarly works.

Fawkes said...

Your article was quite detailed and noted different aspects of the debate with an overall scientific temperament. However, I was dismayed to see you make following points :

1. You stated as to why animals would persist with homosexual behavior if it does not produce anything? Isn't this an unsubstantiated assumption that sex must "produce" something? How many heteros have sex with their partners for the sole purpose of producing kids? Why use contraceptives in that case? The conservative Muslim clergy view is that kids are a gift from Allah. Your statement came dangerously close to that. You would be aware that in much of the Western world, fertility rates are plummeting and are as low as 1.3 in Japan for instance. Millions of Japanese women go through life without procreating, but not without sex. So this argument is obviously rubbish.

2. In another place you referred to research that seemingly proved that gays can be converted to heterosexual behavior, hence proved that homosexuality is not natural. Was any converse research done, if heterosexuals can be converted to homosexuality? Will that prove for you that heterosexuality is also unnatural? Have you considered the possibility that sexuality itself can be a complex sociological conditioning. I would refer you to the works of Havelock Ellis (Studies on the Psychology of Sex) written over a century ago, which include several case studies of men (and women) who exhibited homosexual behavior during their hostel days. Some of them got married in subsequent life, but continued to have homosexual cravings. Of course this is victorian society we are talking about which severely stigmatised gays.

3. You went through this very article on homosexuality without mentioning Kinsey scale anywhere. Perhaps what Alfred Kinsey says would be of interest to you. I quote here from the Kinsey Institute website http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/

“Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats…The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects."

4. Citing animal homosexual behavior as arising out of necessity akin to human teenagers' sexual escapades in hostels might be a trifle misleading. Homosexual behavior is not just confined to those stages of animal behavior when they are unable to get a mate of the opposite sex, but it has been documented to take place throughout the life of mammals like bonobo chimps. I will leave you to google for appropriate research material. Dr. Seymour Benzer, found homosexual behavior occurring in fruit files, which are far removed from the male headed herds you mentioned in your article. You can refer to the book Time, Love, Memory for more details. Here is the Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Time-Love-Memory-Biologist-Behavior/dp/0679444351.

I believe that everything that happens in the world is natural. My worldview is a combination of Jungian and Advaitian worldviews. Since nature is all encompassing, something that is unnatural will not happen in the first place because nature cannot be defied. People who say that vaginal sex or hetero sex is the only way to go about things because nature intended sex to be used to procreation, are guilty of selectively applying the appeal to nature fallacy. Taking this argument further, aeroplanes are also against nature because if nature intended us to fly, she would have given us wings.

It is not my turn to teach tolerance and open mindedness to people. Since your article seemed to reflect a modicum of objectivity, I felt impelled to write this long response to it. Just to clarify, I was unaware of the existence of this blog, and this is the first time I have visited your blog.

If you made it so far, I thank you for staying with me. There might be spelling and / or grammatical mistakes since this is a very long comment I have written. Please excuse me for the same.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Shailendra Mathur/Fawkes,

Your first and second points are misconstructions, a result of misunderstanding what I have written. In fact, after such a detailed exposition, I did not expect anyone to jump to the facile conclusion that I have proved or tried to prove homosexuality is natural or unnatural. But a majority of people do have a proclivity for convenient arguments, as I understand from all the comments above. Before you, there have been people who were visibly elated, thinking I had proved homosexuality to be unnatural. And now you are worked up, thinking the same!

The question of any phenomenon occurring in nature being unnatural is, in itself, self-contradictory. I would rather put it as an order-versus-disorder situation. I tend to think that homosexuality is a kind of disorder — mind you, I repeat, it’s not unnatural — because certain rare or uncommon happenings before or after a child’s birth trigger this sexual orientation in him/her. Several of those happenings have been dealt with and explained in my essay. Here, rarity is defined by deviation from the mean of the orientation observed in society. And that, I think, is how a disorder is defined in medical science. In the Oxford English Dictionary, this definition figures as the third entry for the word, “disorder”. Put another way, it can be called abnormality (I insist the term, “abnormal,” is not a condescending remark; it is strictly a biological observation). But being unnatural is ruled out for the simple fact that everything that happens in nature is natural, and homosexuality does happen in this very nature.

1.
 You stated as to why animals would persist with homosexual behavior if it does not produce anything?

That was certainly not the only thing I said in the section on animal homosexuality. A whole set of questions were posed to those who compare animal and human homosexuality to drive home their point. Picking one of those numerous intertwined questions will not lead us anywhere. Still, if you insist, it can be answered in response to your subsequent questions and statements.

 Isn't this an unsubstantiated assumption that sex must "produce" something? How many heteros have sex with their partners for the sole purpose of producing kids?

But they CAN produce offspring, can’t they? Are you trying to project a disability (which is a physical compulsion) as a virtue (which is an intellectual choice)?

On the legality of the matter, I am all for decriminalising as well as legalising homosexuality. To that extent, I support the Delhi High Court verdict. And my support for the judgment derives its strength from my support for choice. A homosexual couple’s inability to reproduce through the homosexual act is NOT a choice.

 Why use contraceptives in that case? The conservative Muslim clergy view is that kids are a gift from Allah…

This is a non-sequitur, as I am against the position taken by Islam and Christianity, which is evident from the section of my exposition on religion. The rest of your paragraph is a non-sequitur, too, in the light of my response above. To repeat, not to reproduce is a heterosexual couple’s CHOICE; for a homosexual couple, it’s a disability.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

2.
 In another place you referred to research that seemingly proved that gays can be converted to heterosexual behavior, …

Till this portion of your sentence, you are correct. The citation of Dr Robert L Spitzer is the portion of the article where this aspect figures.

 hence proved that homosexuality is not natural.

I did no such thing. This portion of your sentence is wrong.

 Was any converse research done, if heterosexuals can be converted to homosexuality? Will that prove for you that heterosexuality is also unnatural?

This question makes no sense for the fact that some homosexuals had VOLUNTARILY approached Spitzer for counselling and treatment. Your question will remain hypothetical and unreal until some heterosexuals similarly approach some doctor(s) for counselling and treatment to change their sexual orientation.

 Have you considered the possibility that sexuality itself can be a complex sociological conditioning?

Doesn’t my exposition cover social conditioning as well? In fact, a section of the essay deals with the exact type of example that you have provided in the same paragraph. I quote: “This is like the behaviour of some boys who have lived for many years in hostels, or inmates of a prison who for years have longed to see even the face of someone from the opposite sex. Their conduct is not even of the bisexual variety; it stops right after getting a partner of the opposite sex. That is, it's not bisexual because sex with the same gender and that with the opposite one does not continue simultaneously.”

 I would refer you to the works of Havelock Ellis (Studies on the Psychology of Sex) written over a century ago, …

There are certain standards I followed while writing the essay. First, the scientific data should be relatively new, preferably the latest in a given field of research. The psychologist you have quoted lived ages ago. Research into homosexuality is a developing science, where findings emerge every other day, and some of them make the previous beliefs redundant.

Second, the data should be sourced from university papers and not books (I will explain the necessity for this standard subsequently).

Third, I relied (and always rely) on sciences that are called so in the strictest sense of the term. Psychology is a part-arts, part-science subject. I would rather trust a psychiatrist than a psychologist for authenticity of his/her experiments, observations and inferences.

Fourth, I am driven to my wit’s end to reconcile the facts that you seem to be an advocate of the theory, ‘homosexuality is natural,’ on the one hand, and you cite Ellis, a supporter of eugenics, on the other.

 … which include several case studies of men (and women) who exhibited homosexual behavior during their hostel days. Some of them got married in subsequent life, but continued to have homosexual cravings.

Even if I were to believe that the above happened, the phenomenon can be perfectly explained by the fact that, in sex, people not only like variety but also a constant increase in variety. Thus, those who have had experiences of homosexual acts may still like it for a change. This does not prove conclusively whether such subjects are homosexuals or bisexuals or heterosexuals who had no choice during the formative years of their active sex life.

In any event, it’s not my case that homosexuality is a social construct with no scientific basis/bases. Hence, I am ready to accept that the subjects you talked about did not merely believe that they were homosexuals; they were homosexuals indeed. I shouldn’t be explaining this, but I am because you seem to have misunderstood the thrust of my article.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

3.
 You went through this very article on homosexuality without mentioning Kinsey scale anywhere.

I couldn’t have included every scientist, semi-scientist, para-scientist and researcher in my exposition, could I? However, if anybody wants to know, here is my take on Alfred Kinsey:

Once again, you have named a researcher whose work cannot be considered the latest on the issue. Alfred Kinsey died 1956. Even when he lived, flaws in his methodology of survey were pointed out. Clear bias was evident in the sample selection when he overemphasised on prisoners and sex workers. Furthermore, it was ludicrous particularly in the Western society that he lived in to classify any couple living together for just a year as “married”. [source: Alfred C Kinsey: A Public/Private Life (1997) by James H Jones]

The experiments were flawed also because they relied to a great extent on his adult subjects’ childhood memories.

Anyway, based on the work of Gathorne-Hardy and Jonathan, Kinsey: A Biography (2005), I am ready to ignore the errors in his findings.

That still does not remove the possibility of socio-political motivation in his research. Kinsey was a bisexual, which makes the question pertinent as to whether he, like Bruce Bajemihl — who went all out to publicise his conjecture ‘homosexuality is natural because there are homosexuals among animals’ — had a selfish motive in trying to prove a point about homosexuality, or his sexual orientation was strictly incidental and it did not affect his experiments, observations and inferences.

And the approximate validity of his scale also does not absolve him from his downright unethical act of making his wife, staff and graduate students indulge in sexual acts in full camera glare for his experiments.

The final issue of ethics involved his revelation of names of many of his subjects, which was a case of breach of privilege and those subjects’ privacy.

As for the Kinsey Scale, I have no real dispute with it. And no part of my dissertation says that men are exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. Rather, parts thereof do point to homosexual tendencies in both men and women who are otherwise considered ‘exclusively’ heterosexual. Your bringing up Kinsey is, thus, another instance of your failure to understand my point.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

4.
 Homosexual behavior is not just confined to those stages of animal behavior when they are unable to get a mate of the opposite sex, but it has been documented to take place throughout the life of mammals like bonobo chimps.

First, inability to get a mate of the opposite sex alone was not the basis of my argument. I had asked several pointed questions to cast doubt on the coupling and choice of partner in animals involved in homosexual acts. You have cherry-picked only the first two questions (with deliberate omission of the rider I had added to the first), which were:
• Is the alternative of heterosexual partner available to the subject being studied? If yes, are the heterosexual partners from genetically diverse groups? (Every animal tries to the extent possible not to mate within the family)
• Is animal homosexuality comparable to the situations in hostels that are exclusively for boys or girls, or to that in jails?

The other questions were:
• Is the female of the species physically domineering so as to scare the male away?
• In a given couple, isn't the animal that is always seen mounting the other actually a bully? (Compare with similar instances of ragging in colleges)
• Among males, does the act culminate in ejaculation by both? (If not, the one not ejaculating is not enjoying the experience)
• Are sperms planted inside the anal orifice always or at least 50% of the time? ('always' is a better premise; animals are alien to the idea of coitus interruptus)

 Dr. Seymour Benzer, found homosexual behavior occurring in fruit files, which are far removed from the male headed herds you mentioned in your article. You can refer to the book Time, Love, Memory for more details.

I don’t read semi-fictions, even when written by authoritative scientists [Since you did not mention it, I must add that Time, Love, Memory, A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior has Benzer as a subject, not the author. The book was written by Jonathan Weiner, a journalist]. I am the last person to use, cite or quote from such a book in an academic discourse. Otherwise, I can read and use materials furnished by the same authors if they appear as peer-reviewed dissertations sanctioned by some university of repute. You can see throughout my exposition that clicking on any hyperlink takes you to a university paper, and not some book sold in the market (which tends to oversimplify things to make it fit for mass consumption).

Second, after dealing with Bagemihl, who covered a list of 1,500 species, I did not need another author’s works to make my point regarding homosexual behaviour in animals.

Nevertheless, to be specific to the case of fruit flies, their sexual orientation is determined by a gene suggestively termed “genderblind” (GB). A mutation in GB — and even administering of drugs — can turn a fruit fly from heterosexual to homosexual or bisexual within a matter of hours. Doesn’t this fact make you uncomfortable?

The change in the flies’ sexual orientation can be accomplished by scientists by altering the strength of the synapses (nerve cell junctions). Normal GB makes pheromones of a male repulsive for other males; mutation in GB inhibits this repulsion and hence a mutant fruit fly may indulge in homosexual act too when it feels the urge for sex. [source: papers of the University of Illinois, Chicago, 2007; lead researcher: David Featherstone]

Surajit Dasgupta said...

The rest of your deposition “I believe that everything that happens in the world is natural…” is unnecessary. I have clarified time and again to my interlocutors that natural-versus-unnatural is not my line of discourse. Besides, my view is as good as having no view at all. I am doing nothing more than keenly following the research activities in this field. And, in my essay, I have stressed on the fact that the study of homosexuality is a “DEVELOPING science”.

Fawkes said...

Dear Mr. Dasgupta,
Thank you for taking out the time to write this detailed answer. sexuality.

As you noted, many commenters before me looked obviously elated that you had proved homosexuality unnatural, and some of them seemed to agree with the district level judge(s) that homosexuality is an abomination and should be eradicated along with incest, bestiality and prostitution. Am I living in a liberal, democratic country? I could have been fooled.

Anyway, to move on -
You define disorder as certain rare or uncommon happening ... "deviat[ing] from the mean of the orientation observed in society". Let me get this correct. By this definition, a person whose height is above the norm, is also suffering from a disorder. So is someone whose skin has more pigmentation.

Again you recommend changing the factors that cause homosexuality in the womb, so that homosexuals are eliminated at birth. Do you recommend this for all disorders (disorder defined in your terms above), or would you recommend this only for homosexuality? If only for homosexuality, why do you feel it is such an evil that must be eradicated at birth? Can you think of any more abnormal conditions that must be "treated" pre-natal? This smacks of eugenics, not just to me but also to another commenter before me.

Also the idea that homosexuality must be treated by doctors since it is an abnormality looks like a view/ opinion to me. You do not appear to be the dispassionate observer of the latest scientific research happening in his field that you claimed in your response to me.

Also wanted to comment on Research's argument 6. Do you agree with this argument? Or better still, is that your argument? What makes you feel there is static role playing in homosexual relations? Homosexual couples do not play husband and wife because that is very obviously a hetero concept. There is much greater flexibility in the relationship of gay couples.

Besides I am sure you know that gender is less genetics and more social conditioning. Masculinity and femininity are nothing sacrosanct, and are drilled into children's heads right from their childhood, when girls are taught to play with dolls and boys with guns, girls are forced to walk in a particular way and boys in a different way.

Thanks for your time,
Shailendra

Fawkes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Surajit Dasgupta said...

Dear Shailendra,

Reconciliation between your stand and mine on the given issue is difficult. For, yours is steeped too much in sociology and mine too much in science. You speak passionately to drive home a one-sided opinion; I speak dispassionately to get to the fact that traverses the whole spectrum. If I appear arguing against homosexuality here, it's because right now I am debating someone who finds it perfectly all right, even medically. If there comes a commentator who says homosexuality is all wrong, you will see me fighting him/her as well.

Anyway, here’s how you have gone awry:

some of them seemed to agree with the district level judge(s) that homosexuality is an abomination and should be eradicated along with incest, bestiality and prostitution. Am I living in a liberal, democratic country? I could have been fooled.

I am not responsible for whatever anybody believes in or says. I am just giving everybody a chance to speak out. You disagree with me vehemently, and yet I am publishing all your comments, am I not?

You define disorder as certain rare or uncommon happening ... "deviat[ing] from the mean of the orientation observed in society". Let me get this correct. By this definition, a person whose height is above the norm, is also suffering from a disorder. So is someone whose skin has more pigmentation.

Not quite. Unless someone can be medically classified as a dwarf or a giant, his/her height being below or above average is not fraught with health implications. I am not even bothering myself with social and psychological implications. As for complexion, there is no such thing as an average (of skin colour of the world population).

In some advanced countries, a separate department or discipline has been launched to treat diseases prevalent in homosexuals, while there is no department or academic discipline anywhere in the world that dedicates itself to the treatment of diseases that are exclusively heterosexuality-related (for the simple fact that there is no disease observed exclusively or predominantly in the heterosexual population). [Evidence: “there is a growing body of literature on the appropriateness of screening for anal dysplasia in men who have sex with men as a way of preventing the development of anal carcinoma” – Improving Health Care for the Lesbian and Gay Communities – Harvey J Makadon, MD: http://ecommons.med.harvard.edu/ec_res/FB95014F-69AE-4F25-9941-C7F5D5493988/makadon-nejm.pdf]

Here are some diseases that are typical of, related to or more prevalent in homosexuals (needless to add, you cannot find statistics that point to diseases that are typical of, related to or more prevalent in people less than or more than the average height of the world population):

1. Psychiatry:
(i) A Co-twin Control Study in Adult Men
Richard Herrell, MS; Jack Goldberg, PhD; William R. True, PhD, MPH; Visvanathan Ramakrishnan, PhD; Michael Lyons, PhD; Seth Eisen, MD; Ming T. Tsuang, MD, DSc, PhD
Excerpts: “Several recent studies have found a higher lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts in homosexual males compared with heterosexual control subjects or population rates… Same-gender sexual orientation is significantly associated with each of the suicidality measures. Unadjusted matched-pair odds ratios follow: 2.4 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-4.6) for thoughts about death; 4.4 (95% CI, 1.7-11.6) for wanted to die; 4.1 (95% CI, 2.1-8.2) for suicidal ideation; 6.5 (95% CI, 1.5-28.8) for attempted suicide; and 5.1 (95% CI, 2.4-10.9) for any of the suicidal symptoms. After adjustment for substance abuse and depressive symptoms (other than suicidality), all of the suicidality measures remain significantly associated with same-gender sexual orientation except for wanting to die (odds ratio, 2.5 [95% CI, 0.7-8.8]). ” {Source: Archives of Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56:867-874.}

Surajit Dasgupta said...

(ii) Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS).
Sandfort TG, de Graaf R, Bijl RV, Schnabel P

Excerpts: “Psychiatric disorders were more prevalent among homosexually active people compared with heterosexually active people. Homosexual men had a higher 12-month prevalence of mood disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 2.93; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.54-5.57) and anxiety disorders (OR = 2.61; 95% CI = 1.44-4.74) than heterosexual men. Homosexual women had a higher 12-month prevalence of substance use disorders (OR = 4.05; 95% CI = 1.56-10.47) than heterosexual women. Lifetime prevalence rates reflect identical differences, except for mood disorders, which were more frequently observed in homosexual than in heterosexual women (OR = 2.41; 95% CI = 1.26-4.63). The proportion of persons with 1 or more diagnoses differed only between homosexual and heterosexual women (lifetime OR = 2.61; 95% CI = 1. 31-5.19). More homosexual than heterosexual persons had 2 or more disorders during their lifetimes (homosexual men: OR = 2.70; 95% CI = 1.66-4.41; homosexual women: OR = 2.09; 95% CI = 1.07-4.09).” {http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11146762}


2. Dermatology:
Kaposi’s sarcoma —
It’s a tumor caused by Human herpesvirus 8, also known as Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. The sarcoma is an AIDS defining illness that affects the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract.

Statements from authoritative sources:
(a) “Kaposi sarcoma of the parotid gland has been described primarily in homosexual men, along with epidemic KS in general. This is related to the mode of sexual transmission of the KS-related herpes virus, which may be facilitated by anal intercourse and other homosexual practices… unilateral or bilateral parotid gland enlargement in homosexual men with HIV-1, irrespective of CD4 cell count, could represent a manifestation of KS.” (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/content/78/12/1561.full.pdf)

(b) “The aggressive course originally noted by Kaposi has become part of the devastation of AIDS, especially among men who are homosexual… The challenge remained to explain the reason patients who are homosexual and have AIDS exhibited Kaposi sarcoma much more commonly than did patients with AIDS unassociated with homosexuality, with the exception of small foci of homosexuals in isolated midwestern communities… Four groups are predisposed to Kaposi sarcoma including (1) older men of Mediterranean and Jewish lineage; (2) Africans from areas including Uganda, the Congo Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), and Zambia; (3) persons who are iatrogenically immunosuppressed; and (4) men who are homosexual… ” (source: “Kaposi Sarcoma” – Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH, Professor and Head, Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Coauthor(s): W Clark Lambert, MD, PhD, Professor and Head, Dermatopathology, Departments of Pathology and Dermatology, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School)

Surajit Dasgupta said...

3. Cancers and Lymphomas:

(i) New England Journal of Medicine: "Our study lends strong support to the hypothesis that homosexual behavior in men increases the risk of anal cancer: 21 of the 57 men with anal cancer (37 percent) reported that they were homosexual or bisexual, in contrast to only one of 64 controls." AND “Anal intercourse may predispose to anal cancer through the transmission of an infection, most probably infection with human papillomavirus.”
(ii) The Journal of the American Medical Association: "Epidemiological studies have shown that risk factors for anal cancer include homosexuality, history of receptive anal intercourse, presence of anal condylomata, and smoking." AND “…studies indicate that immunosuppressed male homosexuals have a high prevalence of anal human papilomavirus infection and anal intra-epithelial neoplasia, and this population may be at significant risk for the development of anal cancer.”
(iii) The International Journal of Cancer: "Being single and having practiced anal intercourse appears to be associated with anal cancer and case reports have suggested a recent increase in the number of cases of anal cancer."

4. Immune response malfunctioning:
(i) “… hemophilic men age 20 to 44 years who have additional risk factors such as drug abuse, homosexual activity, or both, have significantly decreased rates of survival (Holman et al., 1992)…”
(ii) “…many hemophiliacs, blood transfusion patients, drug abusers, infants of people in these risk groups, and homosexual men are significantly immuno suppressed even in the absence of HIV infection (reviewed in Duesberg, 1992; Root Bernstein, 1990a, 1993)…”

5. Hepatitis A:
“Of the 253 cases in Manhattan, 221 (87%) occurred among men. Analysis of the total number of cases by ZIP code of residents indicated that 115 (45%) patients resided in six ZIP code areas corresponding to two Manhattan neighborhoods with large homosexual populations”

“In May 1991, the New York City Department of Health surveyed 50 persons with hepatitis A. Hepatitis A was diagnosed in each person during January 1-April 15; these persons resided in a Manhattan neighborhood with a large homosexual male population.”

“San Francisco — From January through November 1991, 350 cases of hepatitis A were reported to the San Francisco City Department of Public Health, compared with 254 for the same period in 1990. Of the 350 persons with hepatitis A, 293 (84%) were male, and 186 (78%) of 237 men interviewed identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual. Of the 254 hepatitis A cases reported in 1990, 189 (74%) occurred among men, and 64 (68%) of 94 men interviewed identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”(source: CDC)

Surajit Dasgupta said...

6. STD and AIDS::
Estimated adult and adolescent AIDS diagnoses by transmission route and gender (50 states and D.C.)

Transmission route 2007 diagnoses Cumulative diagnoses
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Male-to-male sexual contact 16,749 - 16,749 487,695 - 487,695
Injection drug use 3,750 2,260 6,010 175,704 80,155 255,859
Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use 1,664 - 1,664 71,242 - 71,242
High-risk heterosexual contact 4,011 7,100 11,111 63,927 112,230 176,157
Other/risk not identified 181 220 401 12,108 6,158 18,266
Total* 26,355 9,579 35,934 810,676 198,544 1,010,030

Important: the 16,749 cases resulting from male-to-male sexual contact are more than four times the number of cases resulting from high-risk heterosexual contact (4,011).


7. Surgery:
(i) “prevalence of anorectal sepsis in homosexual men is high and that symptomatic HIV infection is an important determinant of progress after surgery.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2597952)
(ii) “Oral and anal intercourse present physicians with surgical as well as medical problems, ranging from anal fissures and impaction of foreign bodies in the rectum to major diagnostic dilemmas.” (Selma Dritz in the New England Journal of Medicine)
(iii) Homosexual male practices such as “receptive anal and oral intercourse and oral-anal contact, recurrent rectal trauma associated with ‘fisting’, and venereal and parasitic infections, lead to many medical problems including tissue inflammation...intense angiogenesis, and progressive fibrosis.” (Marlys Witte et al in The International Journal of Dermatology)

ETC

The diseases mentioned above are all acquired. They are besides the inherent diseases, some of which have already been mentioned in the main exposition.
_________

To be continued...

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Again you recommend changing the factors that cause homosexuality in the womb, so that homosexuals are eliminated at birth.

“Elimination” is not the word that aptly describes it. Treatment? Why not, I’d like to ask. Given a choice, would a person like to have a life with and/or prone to all the diseases mentioned above? You are but wrong otherwise. The idea floated is not of treatment, but of judicious verification of the history of a future child’s aspiring parents. That is, I am talking of a stage when the baby has not even been conceived; you are talking of a stage when the foetus not only exists but the pregnancy is at such an advanced stage that the sexual orientation of the foetus can be determined!

Do you recommend this for all disorders (disorder defined in your terms above), or would you recommend this only for homosexuality?

For all medical conditions that lead to and/or come with ailments.

If only for homosexuality, why do you feel it is such an evil that must be eradicated at birth?

Refer to my answer to your previous question. You presumed, wrongly, that I recommend the treatment of only such foetuses that are homosexual.

I take this opportunity to reiterate that you speak too much in, as I said, the language of sociology (which more often than not smacks of politics; there is no scope for such deliberations in science). “Evil”? Now, where did I use that word?

Can you think of any more abnormal conditions that must be "treated" pre-natal?

Lots of them. And whether or not doctors prefer using the term “eugenics”, it’s a fact that if they suspect a foetus is likely to grow into an unhealthy child and then an adult, they do prescribe a treatment and, sometimes, abortion. However, it must be added here that the exercise proposed in my exposition is not of treatment/cure, but of precaution. That is, when a certain family history or pregnancy history of the mother makes the birth of a homosexual foetus highly probable, medical advice must be taken before the BEGINNING of pregnancy. Don’t doctors advice the same precaution when a woman with Rh –ve blood thinks of second pregnancy? Why isn’t that called eugenics, would you care to explain?

This smacks of eugenics, not just to me but also to another commenter before me.

Unfortunately, when those comments were sent to my Gmail address, I did not have the time to respond. However, I sincerely believed in providing space to contrarian views as much as those that supported the position taken by the article, and so I pasted them here even as they were not submitted as comments to this blog-post.

Seems that hasn’t resulted in much loss. Responding to your queries is settling the questions raised by the lawyer too. Finally, I am eagerly waiting for some scientist working on the subject to contest this article. The students of arts simply don’t seem to get it right. Their takes are too political — or, at least, emotional — in nature.

By the way, it was you who brought up and cited a supporter of eugenics to support your views.

Also the idea that homosexuality must be treated by doctors since it is an abnormality looks like a view/ opinion to me.

Refer to the section above that distinguishes between treatment and precaution. I repeat my question, why wouldn’t one like to bypass a possibility that is fraught with health implications?

Surajit Dasgupta said...

You do not appear to be the dispassionate observer of the latest scientific research happening in his field that you claimed in your response to me.

Why else would I call it a developing science? Why else would I expose the humbugs of the Church and the ulema? Why else would I support the Delhi High Court verdict?

What makes you feel there is static role playing in homosexual relations?

There is no room for “feeling” in my article. Every homosexual couple that has been in news has admitted to behaving like man and wife, their difference from heterosexual couples being that both the ‘man’ and ‘wife’ are men or both of them are women. Sticking to the tenor of my article, which strives to remain scientific throughout, I should talk of physicality. Invariably in every homosexual couple, one has stronger physical attributes (muscular body, hairy growth all over, etc) associated typically with males, than the other who is ‘softer’ (smooth skin, limited hair growth, etc), an attribute associated with females. And the stronger partner plays the role of the ‘husband’ and the softer one that of the ‘wife’, be it a case of a gay couple or a lesbian one.

Homosexual couples do not play husband and wife

The whole point is that they do. Always. As I wrote, out of Martina Navratilova and Judy Nelson, the stronger built Martina never played the role of the wife and the softer looking Judy never played the role of the husband.

because that is very obviously a hetero concept.

Which the homosexuals could not break free of.

There is much greater flexibility in the relationship of gay couples.

Homosexuals WISH it were true. It is not. Unlike the homosexual acts shown in pornographic films catering to the LGBT community, there is never a role reversal, so to speak, in real-life homosexual couples. In fact, the government organisations and NGOs that were fighting for the rights of the community say as much. They clearly identify the “kOTHI” out of every gay couple, for example.

Besides I am sure you know that gender is less genetics and more social conditioning. Masculinity and femininity are nothing sacrosanct, and are drilled into children's heads right from their childhood, when girls are taught to play with dolls and boys with guns, girls are forced to walk in a particular way and boys in a different way.

This, again, is too romantic and politically correct an idea, but I wouldn’t get deep into it as it would cause a major digression.

Also you state "Are you trying to project a disability (which is a physical compulsion) as a virtue (which is an intellectual choice)?", so you are obviously aware of the importance of free choice. However, you are quite willing to deny this choice to the gay adult, by forcibly converting him to heterosexuality.

Straw man arguments! Where did you get the ideas of “force” and “conversion” from?

And this for a condition, which even if abnormal is hardly a threat to society in any way.

Nowhere did I call them a threat of any kind to society. However, homosexuals must realise that theirs is a medical condition that is not good for themselves, as is evident from the list of plethora of diseases or susceptibility to diseases related to homosexuality, and that, when a wannabe mother sees a doctor to ascertain the odds, she does a favour to her future child more than anybody else.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

"A homosexual couple’s inability to reproduce through the homosexual act is NOT a choice." And you want to open the can worm of eugenics just so that you can provide this choice to potential homosexuals?

You are clearly in a playful mood, fiddling with contexts at will. The statement that you have quoted was in response to your questions: “Isn't this an unsubstantiated assumption that sex must "produce" something? How many heteros have sex with their partners for the sole purpose of producing kids?” This means, I was dealing with the issue of a homosexual couple’s odds of producing a child. In your response to mine, you are talking about a heterosexual couple with a potential to give birth to a homosexual baby! Stick to the context, will you?

Which is to say you want to thrust this choice upon people who are not yet born, without taking their wish into account.

Given a choice, a person would like to be born with a condition that is more susceptible to certain diseases! Is this your case?

This also leads us to the conclusion that you are okay with homosexuality being a lifestyle choice (something that the Xtian church asserts it is), but you are unwilling to countenance it as occurring natural due to certain prenatal syndromes.

Another straw man argument. You are distorting my statements and drawing conclusions at will. As such, if it were a lifestyle choice — which is admissible in a democracy, but I wouldn’t like to discuss politics or sociology here, as I have said time and again — your case gets weaker, which I understand. But it’s not my case. It’s the line of thinking of religion, which I do not subscribe to.

About sexual conversion a young lawyer has already pointed out that a skewed sample was used, and the methods used for conversion were to say the least barbaric.

And that was a false, politically motivated, pre-determined, preconceived, uneducated charge. I have made it clear in the portion of the article that deals with Spitzer:

“There are three big ironies in Spitzer's story: First, he turns from a hero to a villain in a matter of three decades. Second, he is considered academically credible for his first work but politically motivated for the second. Third, and this is the biggest irony, 1973 is considered modern, 2003 is not!”

“It is clear that it was religion that induced the sense of guilt in most of the subjects that Spitzer examined in 2000-01. On the other hand, the researcher did not handpick them to arrive at any predetermined conclusion; they had approached him voluntarily. Therefore, to cast aspersions on the integrity of the scientist's work of 2001 was grossly unfair. What cannot be overlooked, the use of the word "most" by the doctor shows that not all patients were motivated by religion. And, since some gays had approached Spitzer for the work that led to the 1973 publication, to make two wrongs a right, should anti-gay people allege that it was the first work, and not the second, that was politically motivated?”

There’s more. Spitzer says:
1. “I am exploring whether therapy can actually be helpful to those homosexuals who want to change.”
2. “ gay activists have pretty much convinced everybody that it (change) never happens. So that is why we are interested in first seeing whether it happens at all”
The second inquiry, I think, is a valid scientific inquiry. It is totally justified of any scientist to challenge every axiom, hypothesis and conjecture and verify if it stands as a law.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Religious blackmail and visions of hell (which can be scary for people indoctrinated since their childhood into such bull****) are hardly the recipe for producing voluntary subjects.

You are right. But refer back to Spitzer’s words; he said “most” of them were motivated by religion, not all. And, anyway, that section of the article is about the time when Spitzer fought for and not against the notion of homosexuality being natural. So, why are you complaining?

then why this burning need for sexual evangelism, wherein you want to convert every unborn baby to your heterosexual universe? Or am I missing something here.

Yet another straw man argument. Yes, you have missed it altogether. “Evangelism” and “conversion” are all wrong words. For one, there is no science as of now that can convert a homosexual to a heterosexual. Second, science will always proceed in every direction possible, whether or not you like or dislike some of the directions. Therefore, the exploration of a possibility of treating homosexual foetuses will happen. Your or my views on it, arguments for it and those against it will cut no ice. That is how all inventions and discoveries have happened in history: they are beyond the reach of our likes and dislikes. Third, I have explained, nobody in his senses would like to be born with a medical condition susceptible to diseases. Fourth, the thrust is on checking the history of an aspiring mother and the family she is a part of, while you are talking of an imagined, so-far unscientific possibility of ‘treating’ a foetus once it has already showing signs of developing homosexuality.

It is possible that misunderstood the thrust of your article, because in trying to sift through and comment on a wide variety of public opinion, your personal views got obscured.

That’s not my problem.

Though you claim to have no view on the matter, still it comes across strongly in your article (and your subsequent comments) that you want homosexuals to be treated and converted to heterosexuality, if possible before birth.

You have got it wrong.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

The last post by 'Fawkes'/Shailendra Mathur deleted because it contained an indecent word.

Fawkes said...

Dear Surajit,
You said "Reconciliation between your stand and mine on the given issue is difficult. For, yours is steeped too much in sociology and mine too much in science."

I accept this statement, and I understand that we are looking at this issue from two different angles. My interest in the matter, is obviously from a human and social angle, and it is widespread discrimination against gays that most exercises me. There are frequent reports of gays being handed in Iran, or sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in Malawi that exercise me. And people furthering this discriminative agenda use seemingly scientific / religious arguments for such discriminatory acts. If you have no human interest in the matter, and if this issue is solely of academic/ scientific interest to you, then of course our discussion is futile.

I have understood your position better after exchanging these few messages with you, and I cannot say I disagree much with you, so far as the scientific aspects of the case are considered. And I also agree with your statement "science will always proceed in every direction possible, whether or not you like or dislike some of the directions. Therefore, the exploration of a possibility of treating homosexual foetuses will happen. Your or my views on it, arguments for it and those against it will cut no ice. That is how all inventions and discoveries have happened in history: they are beyond the reach of our likes and dislikes."

Where I disagree with you is the following :

1. "Every homosexual couple that has been in news has admitted to behaving like man and wife, their difference from heterosexual couples being that both the ‘man’ and ‘wife’ are men or both of them are women."
I speak from experience that this is not so. While the rest of your article sticks to scientific facts, this one seems to rely on life stories. I assure you that is not universally true, but yes I can understand why it would seem to be so. Media, art and literature generally depict heterosexual relationships, and gays who want to get into a relationship often have no reference points from within the gay community. Besides, gays have also spent most of their life seeing hetero relationships around them, and unconsciously or consciously they are conditioned by them. This is more a matter of conditioning in as much as it exists, that anything else.

2. About the diseases that you mention gay people being susceptible to, include psychiatric illnesses and attempts at suicide among others. Wouldn't you attribute this to feelings of guilt, and religious indoctrination along with rejection from parents, close ones and society in general that gays are subjected to? If gays did not face alienation and rejection from the rest of the society there would be no reason for them to commit suicide or to feel neurotic.

Likewise, other diseases that you mention like Kaposi’s sarcoma or anal cancer, can be contracted due to certain sexual acts that are generally prevalent among gays, but can be practiced by heteros also. Anal sex is not unknown to heteros though they may not perform this act exclusively. Besides it is possible for gays to use precaution to prevent such diseases.

All the same, I understand where you are coming from, and I appreciate your attempt to take out the time and explain your world view to me. I am still going to stick to the psychological / social aspects of homosexuality, but after talking to you I understand the scientific aspect of the matter better.

Shailendra

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