RS: Ethics: Sexual Ethics Homosexuality and the LawThere have been several debates as to the reasons for homosexual behaviour. Some see itas a ‘condition’ still others have argued that it is socially induced and some have even triedto establish it as a genetic condition. If we were to take the line of Foucault, then it isinteresting to see that the questions concerning homosexuality are no more relevant thanthose we could ask of any other sexual orientation. Indeed, why does there have to be aspecific reason?Considering that homosexuality has existed so far back in history as we can delve, it issurprising that the laws for treatment of homosexuals and their rights have only beenliberalised in the western system relatively recently.During the 1950s a committee was established to investigate the issues and ‘socialproblems’ associated with prostitution and homosexuality; the committee included a judge,a psychiatrist, an academic and various theologians. Their findings The Wolfenden Reportwas published in 1957.The main conclusion of the report concerning homosexuality was that it would be wrong forcriminal law to intervene in what they did in the privacy of their own homes and thereforeconsenting adults should be given the freedom to explore their sexuality. The report stated:...unless a deliberate attempt be made by society through the agency of the law to equatethe sphere with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private life that is, in brief, not thelaw’s business. (Wolfenden Report, 1957)However, it was not until ten years later under a more liberal-thinking government, that therecommendations actually came into force in 28 July 1967. This was the result of greatpressure from several areas of public influence, who felt that homosexual men, in particularwere already the object of ridicule and derision.Even so, it was still widely believed to be a disability or condition that carried with it aburden of shame.Since this breakthrough in public and government acknowledgement of the rights ofhomosexuals, there have been several developments in the law. 1967: the age of consent set for homosexual males was 21. 1994: the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act reduces the age of consent to 18. 2000: the Parliament Act was invoked to ensure the passage of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 which made the age of consent 16 (17 in Northern Ireland for girls) for both homosexuals and heterosexuals. 2003: The Sexual Offences Act completely overhauled the outdated procedures for dealing with sexual offences, including making gross indecency, buggery and sexual activity between more than two men no longer crimes in the UK.
RS: Ethics: Sexual Ethics 2004: the government passed the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which became law in December 2005, allowing same-sex couples to register their partnership legally in a civil ceremony.In summary the privacy law that was initially seen to be a right and a breakthrough was laterseen to have become an admission of disagreement. In order to fully acknowledge the rightsof homosexuals, the freedom of expression in public, within the laws of common decencyand inoffensiveness afforded to all subjects, needed to be acknowledged.
RS: Ethics: Sexual Ethics Christianity and homosexuality- Home & Away Text AChristians are for many reasons divided over the issue of homosexuality. On a natural lawbasis, homosexual sex cannot lead to reproduction and because homosexual marriagewould be considered invalid, then all homosexual sexual relationships are sinful. For manyincluding the Roman Catholic Church homosexuality is contrary to God’s will. The Catechismof the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals should be treated with respect andsensitivity and discrimination must be avoided. Homosexual feelings are not wrong, butputting those feelings into practice is. It is the actions not the inclinations that are sinful.Homosexuals are, therefore, encouraged to pray and seek the help and support of theirchurch to live a life of chastity.Homosexuality is a divisive issue in Christianity. The religion encompasses all views and evenopenly homosexual clergy, including bishops. The Church was divided by the appointment ofits first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson in 2003. Recently, the first gay ‘marriage’ wascarried out in an Anglican Church between two priests. They exchanged views at the churchof St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London. Before this, in line with conditions forremarriage, clergy, through personal choice and preference, could perform blessings. ...it is pointless condemning someone for being homosexual: it is a condition that is not arrived at by choice. The homosexual whether he or she indulges in homosexual acts or not, is a person loved by God and for whom Christ dies. (Shannon)Reactions were mixed: The Sunday Telegraph quoted the Archbishop of Uganda, the MostRev Henry Orombi as saying: The leadership tried to deny that this would happen but nowthe truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return totraditional teaching.Under the Church of England guidance, gay clergy can enter a civil partnership if theyprovide reassurance that they will abstain from sex. Couples who ask a priest to bless theirunion must be dealt with ‘pastorally and sensitively’ on an individual basis.Anglican bishops hold widely varying views on sexuality, due to the ambiguity in interpretingancient passages from the Bible, and there has been no compromise or middle ground. “This conference recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. We wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ.” “This conference while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.” (Lambeth Resolution on Sexuality, 1998)
RS: Ethics: Sexual Ethics Islam and homosexuality- Home & Away text B There is no debate in Islam concerning homosexuality. Traditions and scriptures condemn it. Accordingly: Though love is the basis of all relationships, Islam forbids homosexual and lesbian relations. Islam views such relations as unnatural and a deviation from the norm. (Ibn Ally) There is no room for compromise. Several parts of the Qur’an are seen to refer to gay and lesbian behaviour. Officially, there can be seen to be five references concerning specifically same-sex relationships. It is interesting to note that four are about the same story concerning Lot and this has also caused much debate and controversy within Christian theological circles in response to the issue. The Hadiths (collection of sayings of Muhammad (PBUH) are more graphic and explicit, condemning homosexuality. Although they carry authority, they are always secondary to one divine source, the Qur’an. Traditionalist orthodox Muslims consider the Hadith literature as the authentic sayings of Muhammad. Many liberal Muslims doubt the authenticity of at least some of them. Indeed, no sahabi (companion) of Muhammad could quote a saying or decision of Muhammad relating to this question. Passages often cited from the Hadiths include: When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes. Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to. Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (Illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them.