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Is Homosexuality Really An Import?

By Devika Mittal

16 October, 2013

The Gulf nations are planning to conduct "gay tests" for foreign tourists. It is claimed that the test will "recognise" gays and transgenders who will be then denied entry. This will be applicable in all the GCC or Gulf Cooperation Council countries that includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. In all the GCC countries, homosexuality is outlawed.

While this news is becoming a talk of the world, I fear that it will be largely discussed as a symbol of conservatism and related to a particular religion. I feel that the focus needs to be shifted to the accusation that homosexuality is an important. My article intends to burst this myth.

The proposal of GCC is inherent with the assumption that homosexuality is an import of the west. It is not a practice of the land. This assumption and notion is true not only for the Arab countries but is also quite widespread in many South Asian countries. However, this is not corroborated by facts.

The movement for the rights of the LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex) community is not very old. It was only in 2003 that all the states of America had legalised homosexuality. Marriage equality is banned in countries. Many states of USA are yet to legalise it. Russia has recently passed the anti-Gay bill. Even if western countries have some provisions, there is still social stigma attached to people of LGBTI community. In a recent news, it was reported that a Christian College in California had banned a student after it was found out that she was a transgender. Infact, it has been argued that homophobia or fear of homosexuality and diverse sexualities was a product of colonialism. Thus, it would be more apt to say that homophobia, not homosexuality, is an import of the west.

Homosexuality as an "import" also conveys that homosexuality is a kind of trend or lifestyle. It is generally believed that like the concepts of a nuclear family and an individual life, homosexuality has also "come from the west". It is not true because homosexuality is not a concept. It is not a trend that can be followed. It is the way a person is. What can be said to be imported from the west is the acceptability and recognition that some western societies have shown for diverse sexualities.

Related with this concept is the basic assumption that homosexuality is "unnatural". This assumption has been long challenged through inter-disciplinary researches. The fact is that if homosexuality is unnatural, then why is it found in about 1500 species ranging from primates to parasites? Homosexual behaviour is found to be quite widespread in the animal kingdom. One quarter of black swans engage in homosexual unions.

If homosexuality and diverse sexualities are unnatural then why do we need religion, culture, media, law and the state to enforce this "fact"? Diverse sexualities are reflective of the beauty of the nature. We are mesmerized by the diversity in flowers, animals, birds, landscapes but then why do many of us reject and condemn diversity in the sexual orientation of human beings. There is enough literature available on the history of sexuality, about a more accommodating past followed by the period of suppression of sexuality. There are reasons that explain the suppression. In the past, due to the existing political circumstances, many societies lay emphasis on fertility and so they condemned any union that was not productive. They had intertwined this with the moral and social. It was incorporated in many religious systems. However, even when the situation changed, the moral and the social was not adequately challenged. Thus, the taboo remained.

This move to bar the entry of gay tourists shows that there is a sense of "fear" and we must inquire about it. Who is fearful and of what? How is someone's sexuality affecting a society or people around him/her? Homosexuality is being seen as a threat to the "moral good". When a homosexual person is brutally harassed, where does the morality go? There are many incidents of rapes of people of LGBTI community. This proposed move to "control" homosexuality by barring the "agents" of homosexuality makes some sense if we accept that homosexuality has buyers in the land.

Thus, it is important to realise that homosexuality is neither a threat to any culture or system of 'morality' nor an import of west. It is important to protest against this illogical and "unnatural" disease called homophobia that still grips many countries.

Devika Mittal is a research student. She is a core member of Mission Bhartiyam and can be reached at devikamittal31@gmail.com


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