Homophobia has no natural rights


Sometimes it is best to stay silent rather than appear a fool or ill informed. Sean Thomas has sadly not felt this way as he joins the chorus of “I’ve a bit of the homophobia” revelations.

But if gayness is natural, why do I feel that brief, reflexive twinge of disgust when I see gay men kissing? Some would argue that I have been conditioned by society into accepting the norm of straightness, and my repulsion is therefore mere bigotry.

But what if it isn’t? What if homophobia is also “natural”?

Using your own inclinations is not usually the best way to develop a hypothesis – generally speaking you are more inclined to look for evidence which backs you up rather than proves you wrong.

An actual scientific study which exposed men to gay porn while measuring penis extension to penis flaccidity found those who were homophobic had a sexual reaction to gay male porn compared to other heterosexual men who had no reaction. Some hard evidence.

Sean and I could carry out our own research together. The thing is attitudes are more complicated than supposing a natural instinct. He is also ignoring the possibility that because he is not gay he just does not find it turns him on. We could do the test Sean – see whether you are up for it or not.

Which leads to the other proposition to take issue with that all human attitudes and behaviour are concerned with the passing on of our genes:

Evolutionary psychologists have debated this point, and it is at least arguable that homophobia is unconscious – and inherited. And it’s not hard to see why such a reflex might have evolved: before the era of the test tube baby and artificial insemination, parents who happily tolerated gayness in their kids would be smiling on the extinction of their genes. Not good.

The link Sean provides actually goes more into cultural attitudes to gay people, in particular to jobs involving children because of gay sex being considered perverted (the old tabloid reaction of being homosexual is like being a paedophile). The study suggests that cultural memes and environmental factors are a major thing in responses to gay people rather than as a survival of the species.

Richard Dawkins in the video below talks about three likely theories regarding passing on homosexual tendencies. Myself I find the third theory more convincing – that cultural and environmental factors make coming out as gay or being actively gay more or less likely. In short not one gay gene it hangs on – it is not quite biological determinism but it is not a choice either. Just because you may in one state of the world be gay does not mean in another state of the world you would never have children.

As such my argument would be encouraging gay rights allows people to be who they are – but cultural attitudes as mentioned in the preceding link suggest this may not always be taken advantage of even if we achieve legal rights. Dawkins in his first theory of the gay uncle suggests an ancestral attitude which seems lacking in the contemporary study.

Homophobia is one reason for that and one that needs stamping out. The attitude effects life chances, family relationships and cultural let alone religious views reduce the pursuit of happiness that gay people are entitled to.

Sean at the end of erroneous thinking finally comes to a conclusion which is absurd as it is offensive.

All of which presents us with a liberal paradox. If we’re going to extend equal right to homosexuals, because homosexuality is perfectly natural, we also need to extend equal rights to homophobes, for exactly the same reason. How we celebrate this rich diversity is a difficult issue, though. Perhaps both sides could have marches on their special days, through different parts of the same town?

There is no natural right to be a bigot. All the time we make moral decisions to constrain the passing on of genes despite the idea that encouraging procreation benefits a population. If we acted in accordance with breeding at all times to be encouraged, with natural selection the only check, we may ban contraceptives, ban abortion and allow rape.

We do not and never will while there is breath in me. We make moral decisions based on other factors than appeals to natural law or population growth. Contraceptives exist because there is more to sex than conceiving. Sanctions against rape because it is a horrific act on women. Abortion because the woman concerned should have the final say – no one else.

Homophobia has no place because it represses gay people who have a right to pursue happiness. There is no natural right to allow it anymore than racism in the public sphere.

Tom Doran in drawing my attention to the article made the suggestion to read Sean’s post replacing the word homosexual with black and homophobic with racist.

Reread Sean’s article in this way. Ask yourself why he was able to get this printed.

Then like me be outraged.

Related blog: Mehdi Hasan and my lukewarm response to his homophobia revelation

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78



Filed under Dawkins, Evolution, Philosophy, Richard Dawkins, Science

2 responses to “Homophobia has no natural rights

  1. I’m straight, but homophobia angers me. Good post!

  2. Pingback: Clarifying My James Kirchick Post | Homo economicus' Weblog

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