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Friday, 24 August 2012

Consenting Adults, Homosexuality, Incest, Polygamy, Bestiality: Defining Acceptable Sexuality

I don't normally watch The Jeremy Kyle Show, a sort of TV programme on the British underclass and its troubles, although it can be interesting at times.

Last night I watched it. There was a homosexual couple of two men, said to love each other very much. One had been adopted as a child, so he didn't know who his family were. The couple discovered that they were in fact half brothers. This revelation caused them much grief and an emotional state which was repeatedly described as "devastation".

Now I am genuinely asking this question.

What is the moral difference between incest and homosexuality? Not many years ago homosexuality was considered reproachable, now it isn't but incest is, in a few years' time, if current visible trends continue, incest will no longer be.

Let's start from the beginning. Initially, there was a prevailing position condemning homosexuality both morally and criminally.

This was, I believe, wrong, and so started believing many people.

The idea that homosexual orientation and behaviour were not per se unethical began to prevail, leading to a liberal attitude towards them.

So far, so good. What happened next was not so good, though.

Homosexuality, in the common usage, refers to two things: the inclination or orientation of sexual attraction for people of the same sex and the behaviour that acts on that inclination.

There has been a leap from decriminalising homosexuality and considering it as a legitimate and acceptable behaviour to assuming that same-sex sexuality is not a problem, in any sense of the word: and this is a big leap.

The new concept that established itself in public opinion about sex was that everything was morally acceptable among consenting adults.

But is this simple formula really standing even a superficial scrutiny?

For instance, what about incest? If the people "committing" it (and the very fact that we can still use this verb which we couldn't use in reference to homosexuality shows the double standard) are consenting adults, what then? Is it considered OK?

An obvious objection to putting the two on the same level could concern the biological problem of the increased genetical handicaps of the offspring from two close blood relatives. This, though, is easily surmountable by assuming that a) the incestuous couple is homosexual (as in our TV show case), or b) the incestuous couple is infertile for several reasons (the woman is past menopause, or the individual(s) involved are sterile through natural or induced causes).

In that case there is nothing to object to incest, if we accept that all sex between consenting adults is right. And if we do object to incest but not homosexuality, why then? There is here a glaring contradiction, which shows how confused and inconsistent our ideas about sexual morality are.

In fact, incest will in all likelihood become acceptable probably quite soon:
Most European countries have laws against incest between lineal ancestors/descendants, and between full siblings. However, in most countries these laws are no longer enforced if the incest takes place between consenting adults.

... UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has questioned the rationale behind laws prohibiting incest, at least as they apply to sex between adults.[Emphahsis added]

In Argentina and Brazil, similarly, incest between individuals above the age of consent is permitted.

In Italy, a new law implicitly recognizes incest by recognizing children of incestuous relationships.

Once upon a time, there was a witch hunt mentality against homosexuals, now there is a witch hunt attitude against so-called "homophobes", i.e. people who disagree with the current orthodoxy and received wisdom on homosexuality. Nothing has changed ethically in this 360-degree reversal in public opinion, except the victims.

The question is: if homosexuality is accepted not simply in the sense of society's and state's non-interference with somebody's personal choices but also in the sense of suspending any judgement, moral, psychological, psychiatric and medical, about homosexuality and its consequences, that means much more than liberalism and tolerance. That means dangerous limitation to freedoms of thought and speech, fundamental human rights.

If we then move to same-sex marriage, moreover, this is no longer just a personal choice: it's a choice that concerns all society, because marriage is a social institution, as well a Christian sacrament, and is central to society, so what happens to it concerns us all and will have consequences for us all, not just homosexuals.

This is a genuine question, not a rhetorical one: is anyone capable of offering rational (I underline "rational") reasons why homosexual marriage should be allowed and not marriage of an incestuous couple, marriage of a threesome, or marriage between a man or woman and his/her pet or any other animal, or indeed any other form of marriage, if desired by the relevant parties?

If anybody has such reasons founded on rationality and logic, I'd be interested to hear them.

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