Loose lips sink ship! This age long catch phrase unfortunately became the sad reality of Tory MP Andrew Turner last week, as he addressed a group of pupils from a college in Newport stating “Homosexuality is wrong and dangerous to society.”
These remarks from a public servant; unsurprisingly caused outrage amongst a few students and has sparked a chain of events which amongst other things has led the now defunct law maker to lose his seat and the right to stand for re-election as a representative of the isle of wright constituency, which he has represented since 2001.
Now this article is not going to focus on the ‘disgraced’ MP neither would it endorse his rhetoric, but rather the intention and message behind his statement and (not necessarily the delivery) is our major point of concern. The question is it possible to believe homosexuality is wrong without being branded a homophobe?
Where does freedom to hold a belief which could be based on moral, cultural or religious inclination begin and at what point does it end or translate to an infringement on the doorstep of LGBT rights?
In the light of recent events, these questions are worth an intellectual and objective discourse; free from bias, prejudice and sentiments. Can we find a common ground?
Regardless of religious convictions or reservations on what constitutes an appropriate sexual orientation and marriage equality, it is becoming all too common with the debate and the incessant bullying of those who uphold their conservative or religious values being labeled as homophobes or anti-gay.
What really is homophobia, in the literal sense of the word? Maybe understanding the real context of the word will help debunk some of the irrational and uninformed conclusions unfairly dished out by our pro-gay brethren on the other side of the isle.
Homophobia could be defined as contempt, prejudice, hatred or any negative feelings and attitudes towards homosexuality or people identified or perceived as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
The world is already divisive, why must we further this course by making it an “us against them” affair? In the words of the infamous Rodney King, can’t we all just get along? If not, then why not? The gay community might respond how can we get along with so much bigotry? and the other half would respond how do we, in the face of so much antagonism?
Why can’t we agree to disagree, that the different schools of thoughts could maintain their belief system and traditions without disregarding dignity and respect for one another? As long as our point of views are articulated in a kind manner without any malice aforethought.
In asking these questions, this article is not about telling the reader who’s right or what’s wrong, but rather it seeks to open up a channel for public discourse and self-reflection which in turn will lead to realisation that it is possible to be against homosexuality without being homophobic.
Having reservations about homosexuality or same sex unions is perceived by most as to be equivalent to saying the LGBT community are lesser beings to straight individuals, when that is definitely not the case. Disagreement is not the same thing as discrimination. Our choice of words in communication should mirror the clear difference.
Unfortunately the homophobia term is now used as a tool of intimidation against those who choose to stick with their traditional conservative values. This is now gradually becoming the classic case of the victim now being the victimizer.
Of course mistakes have occurred and unfair language and utterances are still being made, as clearly highlighted and referenced above. Nevertheless this should not excuse the malicious generalisation that we are all homophobic because of our beliefs. It is illogical and defies common sense and reason.
To refusal to seat, communicate or serve anyone based on their sexual orientation is unequivocally unacceptable. That is discrimination and discrimination on whatever grounds or forms; sexual, race, ethnic or religious, etc should never be condoned.
Is our sexual orientation all there is to our identity as a human being? Why does the LGBT community choose to make their identity about their sexuality in most cases and not their unique personality and other admirable character traits?
We should always let the world judge us for who we are and not what we do behind closed doors, it really doesn’t matter. Because whether gay, bisexual, or straight; we are all sexual creatures, but our sexuality only constitutes a minimal part of our individuality and make up a human beings.
In conclusion, the fundamental aspect of the word “homophobia” shouldn’t be misconstrued, and should verily comprise personal bile and malice towards the LGBT community. As long as any form of reservations are held without malice and articulated or communicated in a respectable manner, I see no justification in dismissing the person or people holding those reservations as homophobic or anti-gay because that is doing more harm to society than good.