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Human Rights: Equal Rights for Lesbians and Gays

Introduction

Since Adam and Eve, according to Bible, set in motion an endless journey of race of human beings on this Earth, there is no doubt of the fact that relationship between husband and wife has always been and still being considered very natural. The dept of the feelings felt in this relationship is nothing else but a gift from God. Genesis 1: 26 clearly reflect this message of God when it states that man, the creation of God is an image of God himself and he has created male and female to be for one another. God has created man in the form of male from the womb of the mother earth, and Eve, the Adam’s wife represents all women. Since then for the whole human race, marriage between two opposite sexes is treated and deemed as the most sacred institution ordered by God and any defiance of this order is defiance of the God itself.

Main body

But it is neither practically happening nor it is practically true as there are thousands and thousands of couples who do not fit into one man/one woman definition, and still are leading a happy married life. Surrounded with social taboos, they are being defied the basic existence to live as they come under the category of homosexuals. The traditional marriage conventions demand persons from opposite sexes to enter into marriage lock and only then they would be entitled for respectable place in the society but now this concept of marriage is getting a tremendous change.

Governments’ too recognize the fact that gays must get privilege of leading a married life and form their family. In the following essay I will pose an argument with exploratory answers against the thoughts developed by the social institutions and the people who still believe that the rights given to the lesbians or gay men will flout the traditional norms of their family system. And will also argue that this is not the sufficient reason for withholding the laws in favor of their marriage.

The issue of rights towards the gays and lesbians has always been the topic of much heated debate all over the world and has been the cause of concern especially in America and Canada where they constitute maximum in number in the form of population.

The orthodox and the religious elite base their teachings of Jesus to conceptualize their views on the traditional family system. Jesus Christ alluded to the declamation of Adam while conforming to the divine orders for the marriage ritual, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” 1 They also feel that being a homosexual is the gravest crime against God and against the law of nature and it is necessary that the rights be denied to them.

Others argue that homosexuality is itself immoral and goes against the basic norms of the society. But here the question thus arises is what counts for ethical and unethical issue? Homosexuals are the human beings like us but unlike others they are romantically and sexually attracted towards the same sex.

They would like to have an essence of feeling of belongingness towards the society. They are very much the part of the society and therefore their act is ethical or unethical is a matter of personal opinion but there is nothing unethical about it so far as it is not causing harm to others. Others feel that being homosexual is very disturbing but this is just a psychological feeling of some people.

It was in 2000 that the Canadian Government disclosed the legislature on the bill related to the rights of homosexual couples. It was the first time Canadian Government following the Supreme Court ruling recognized the equal status to the same sex partners but on the same hand again they never stated that the bill allowed same sex people to get married. The bill clearly stated that marriage should be between the opposite sexes and nobody could deny this fact. 2

The bill also stated that the homosexuals would be entitled for all the benefits: be it tax rules, social welfare benefits and other citizenship rights. This bill stirred the emotions among the opposition parties who were more concerned about the deteriorating effect that this bill would have on the traditional concept of marriage. They were not against giving rights to homosexuals but against the content of the bill, which created confusion among the masses. They wanted the bill should also include equal rights to brothers or sisters staying together or whoever others who are not related to each other but are dependent on each other for their survival.

Any law made or any law generated has resulted in controversy, because still people construe homosexuality as something to be despised only because of the simple reason- there is no true knowledge and education about who are homosexuals and what are the main causes behind the homosexuality. The lack of knowledge results in lot of misunderstandings against them and the stereotype image that they carry.

It is a misconstrued conception that lesbians or gay cannot lead a long lasting relationship but this is not true and the values that they exhibit are the same as that can be expected of any civilized person of American society or thereof. They are very devoted to their partners and loyal to their mates and are very well committed to the family life. Many of them are making valuable contributions towards society. 3

In America too, laws were made recognizing the equal status to them but again in 2006 President George Bush made clear his desire for making amendments in the Section of the United States Constitution that prohibited gay and lesbian marriage. In address to the nation on radio, Bush spoke to revive the United States Constitution making gay and lesbian marriages illegal and his main motive was simply to protect the institution of marriage. He believed that children born from husband and wife lead better life than the children adopted by gay or lesbian couples. On the other hand, Gay rights activists felt his movement towards them was merely another part of his political shrewdness and further if he gave his objective a fruitful end, this would make the status of lesbians and gay legally inferior. 4

Marriage entitles for intimacy between couples which is purely their own, and marriage is not merely about union between body and soul but also about sharing and caring. It is all about creating a new bond of friendship, sharing finances, career, leisure time as well as bad times. They are both soul mates and if two persons regardless of their sex want to carry on with their life and raise their family in each other’s company, there is no harm in that.

On 20th July 2005, many Canadian media reported the most raucous debates in the history of Canada resulting in majority of votes favoring same sex marriage. This event made Canada the fourth country to give its sanction for the same-sex marriage. Senate was too happy to adopt the Liberal Government’s Bill C-38 giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in courthouses and city halls all across the country. 5

Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom states that “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination” and Supreme Court of Canada too have recognized that “Many Canadian couples of the same sex have married in reliance on those court decisions.” (BILL C-38, Online) Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, equally states, “Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others”. 6

If we consider marriage from this perspective, there on the scene are two basic changes in the way we look at the marriage. The marriage is now not just considered and thought of only as a legal contract but also considered as a personal contract too between the two. Secondly, the purpose of marriage is not just for performing the act of procreation but also for delivering selfless help and service to each other and it is this natural bond of love and care that makes the married institution the most useful and sacred.

It is also possible that due to health or some other reason, marriages do not culminate in off-springs; for this reason too marriage is not seen as just for enjoyment of sex or for procreation but also for caring and understanding. Now, when we see increasing number of divorce rates among the couples of opposite sex and marriages culminating in brick batting and quarrels between husband and wife, the whole basic purpose of traditional way of marriage is dashed to the ground. In-fact The Catholic bishops of Western Washington too said family is not just a metaphor but also the proper term to describe such a relationship. And even The Catholic theologian Rosemary Haughton too said that the main aspect of marriage is not a blood relationship, but “it is world itself, it’s a community whereby people share their lives with each other.” 7

But the question arises what about children and on what basis children would be reared?

As stated by Jacques Barzun in “From Dawn to Decadence” that while the traditional family has not disappeared, the variants are becoming traditional themselves: children lacking one or another biological parent exist in single-parent families, blended families, families rearing grandchildren and homosexual couples with a child, adopted or not. 8 And from these circumstances, there are two instances that could occur which are the day-care centers and the semi-orphan centers. Concern for the children is also the basic reason for the promulgators of the traditional families. They believe that children reared and brought up away from the traditional norms in the family are disadvantaged. 9

In fact the studies conducted by Swedish scientists and printed during March 2008 edition of Acta Paediatrica, confirmed the view that all children require fathers as well as mothers. Psychologist Judith Wallerstein of the University of California in her 30-year longitudinal study showed that her first group of mature adults had to face difficulty in searching their suitable partners and then maintaining their relationships. Writing in the “The Legacy of Divorce”, she revealed the fact that “they lack the role models most effectively secured by a child’s married biological parents.” 10

Legislatures are finding the solution to this problem. They have made efforts to make amendments at both the provincial as well as federal levels for deleting the words “husband” and “wife”. Instead they are all spouses. At the same time Civil Marriage Act institutionalizing the same sex marriage in 2005 also removed the word natural parents from their federal law changing with the term legal parent. Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal gave its ruling in one of the case of a child born out of the sperm donor. His mother and lesbian spouse brought him up.

The ruling stated that now this child and other children like him could have more than two parents and mention of more than two parents would be allowed on a birth certificate of a child. But there could also arise number of underlying problems for children as they could be considered as orphan or when they grow up, the questions regarding the fatherhood could keep on haunting them. As said by Charlotte Patterson, courts too have raised many fears regarding the negative influence of gay and lesbian parents on children. They fear that the children brought up by the Lesbian or gay parents would not be able to identify their sexuality and disturbances may occur in them regarding their gender role and behavior.

They also fear that children from them could also become lesbian or gay themselves. Some also advocate their fear that children kept in the custody of gay or lesbians can get mental breakdown, can face difficulty in adjusting themselves in the society and can have many other psychological or behavior problems. These children may also find difficulty in establishing social relations. There is also a concern among judges that these children may be teased, abused, victimized and or sexually abused by the parents, friends or acquaintances. 11

But several studies and research suggest anything that contradicts to the concept of children getting disadvantaged while they are brought up and taken care of by their lesbian parents. Yet they cannot bear the trauma that they suffer. There are several programs, which prevent these children from harassment and violence. Many schools all over America and Canada have adopted code of conduct to protect them against the harassment.

However the same laws and code of conduct are not happening every where and signs can be seen of the discriminatory legislation in some of the states known as “no promo homo” laws disallowing students to gain access to the information relating to the sexual orientation or gender identity. These laws prevent the school authorities from realizing the fact that there exists homosexuality or prevent them in saying anything, which goes in favor of homosexuality. For e.g. The Boy Scouts of America, conventionally though of as an organization which is open for all boys irrespective of their caste, religion or otherwise began their discriminatory attitude against the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and youths after sanction and approval from the United States Supreme Court. 12

Interviews of youths on Human Rights Watch found out that the gay or lesbian children are considered most vulnerable in the United States middle schools and high schools. Nearly 140 students interviewed revealed one or the other kind of the verbal or the other nonphysical harassment in school. For them, these abuses have become part of their daily routine.

For the students of the college too, listening to these abuses have become their daily routine like twenty-year-old Aaron G said to Human Rights Watch, “I got a lot of harassment in high school. ‘Fucking fag,’ stuff like that.” 13 Kimberly G., a nineteen year old who completed his graduation from Texas high school also revealed, “I had people harass me for liking girls.” 14 These students are called by the names of faggot or fag. They are also harassed through written notes like making their obscene or funny cartoons, creating graffiti scribbled on walls or lockers, or pornographic pictures etc. 15

The effect of these harassments is notwithstanding terrible. After facing many challenges on day-to-day basis, lesbian and gays are more attracted towards alcohol or other drugs, get themselves lured to the sexual behaviors, or even run away from home, and its also found that some do attempt suicide.

Ann Thompson Cook too noted the fact that “lesbian and gay youth often invest tremendous energy in coping with society’s negativity and discrimination. Lacking healthy adult [role] models, skills and support systems, many conclude that they have no hope of ever becoming happy and productive.” These abuses have a detrimental effect on the mental health on these youths. 16

Conclusion

Lesbians and gays are also the part of our society and deeming them as inhuman is against the fundamental concept of humanity. They have proved that they can become the part of the society and have been very responsible citizens and reared their families too with great responsibility. The attitude shown by these people should make the advocators of anti homosexuals think twice to withdraw the rights given to the lesbians or gay men and their distortion of the traditional household system is definitely not the reasonable reason to prevent them for getting these rights.

End Notes

  1. Matthew 19:4-6. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stresses on the marriage as an divine institution.
  2. BBC News, Online. Canadian government sanctions equal rights for homosexuals in 2000 while opposition party concerned on the erosion of institution of marriage.
  3. Corvin, 85. Corvin in his book “Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality” published in 1999 disputed some arguments such as unnatural, harmful and in violation of Biblical teaching which are held against homosexual activity.
  4. Guardian Unlimited. Online. Bush attacked courts in 2006 for legalizing gay marriages but many observers view it as a political stunt to deflect the bad news coming from Iraq war, which has negatively affected his poll ratings.
  5. Canadian Press, Online. In 2005, Canada approved same-sex marriage after a heated debate and it was the result of the 2003 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling which held the exclusion of homosexuals marriage unconstitutional.
  6. BILL C-38, Online.
  7. Parrella, Online edition. Fred Parrella, associate professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, suggested moral and theological arguments that might open the possibility for the Christian acceptance and approval of same-sex marriages.
  8. Kopala, Online. Margret Kopala argues that it is mistake to pass laws that alter existing social norms and institutions and focuses on the negative impact on the children adopted by same-sex couples.
  9. ibid.
  10. ibid.
  11. Paterson, Online. Charlotte J. Patterson in this article mentioned the concerns or fears of court regarding the influence of homosexual parents on children.
  12. Human Rights Watch: Young and Queer in America, Online. Human Rights Watch published a report on the attitudes of authorities toward homosexuals in schools and colleges and discusses the legal developments.
  13. ibid.
  14. Human Rights Watch: Hatred In The Hallways, Online. Human Rights Watch published a report on the verbal harassment faced by homosexual in school and colleges and its impact on them.
  15. ibid.
  16. Human Rights Watch: Coping with Depression and Violence, Online. Human Rights Watch in this report discussed that discrimination, harassment, and violence turn gays, lesbians and bisexuals to alcohol or other drugs, to risky sexual behaviors, or they even run away from home or attempt suicide.

Works Cited

BBC News. “Canada unveils equality law for gays”. Internet (2000). Web.

Bidstrup, Scott. “Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives” Internet (1996). Web.

BILL C-38. Internet. Web.

Canadian Press. “Senate approves same-sex bill, CP” Internet (2005). Web.

Corvino, John. “Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality.

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Guardian Unlimited. “Bush Calls for Gay Marriage to Be Outlawed.” (2006). Web.

Human Rights Watch. “Coping with Depression and Violence” Internet. (2001). Web.

Human Rights Watch. “Hatred In The Hallways” Internet. (2001). Web.

Human Rights Watch. “Young and Queer in America.” Internet. (2001). Web.

Kopala, Margret. “Sacrificing our children for same-sex ‘marriage’’. Internet (2008) World Net Daily. Web.

Parrella, Fred. Gay Marriage: Theological and Moral Arguments. (2004) Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Internet. Web.

Patterson, Charlotte J. “Children of Lesbian & Gay Parents.” Internet. (2008). American Psychological Association. Web.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The Divine Institution of Marriage”. Internet. (2008). Web.