Sunday, March 31, 2013

The equality debate

Lately there is a great deal of gay activism on the social networks in regards to marriage equality and I have an inkling we are at the precipice of a paradigm-shift in the minds of the people of the world. In my opinion, we now have the critical mass to create a chain reaction that will not cease till there is full equality on the planet (or at least in the developed world). This is 2013 and I think the anti-gay camp is evolved enough by now to rise above those few weak and tired arguments against denying us the rights that we deserve.

I remember when I first came out and fully accepted my sexual identity, I went into a phase of getting into online debates with these naysayers. That was about ten years ago but the arguments on both sides have not changed. We are still in the same spot fighting the same fight and we are going to continue to fight. Hence this is a good time to let you in on how I felt then (and now) about this. Here is an excerpt of one of these lengthy responses I made to those homophobes back in 2004 (the preceding paragraphs were about the biological side of the debate ie. genetics and homosexuality in the animal kingdom):

"The opponents of homosexuality have always used a distorted upbringing in one's life as the reason for homosexuality and in my opinion, that is just plain wrong. Believe it or not, back in my home country (Singapore), there is a clause in the media censorship board that says that the media is only allowed to introduce homosexuality if it is portrayed in a bad light. What end up on the TV screens are psychopathic homosexuals with a sordid history of sexual abuse by someone of the same sex, homosexuals without positive same-sex role models during their adolescent years, etc. I am really sick and tired of that to be honest because it is just not true. Many gay people I know come from perfectly normal families. 

As for the moral argument, we all know that moral values are dichotomised into secular and non-secular ones but the many voices we hear against homosexuality are usually from the Christians. That irks me a lot for many reasons. Christians have been going against everything that is not Bible-approved ranging from contraception to the theory of evolution. What irritates me is their opportunistic behaviour, taking any chance to jump on the loud religious bandwagon and cooling down after a while when they realise that what they say have close to zero impact. Recently, the issue of gay marriages has been a hot one and we see Christians sparing no chances of voicing out their moralistic concerns. But what happened to pre-marital sex? If I am not wrong, I believe that is as wrong as homosexuality but we don't see Christians holding placards outside broadcast stations every time a scene of pre-marital sex is shown on air right? This is because they know that there's nothing they can do about that anymore and thus the double standard.

What makes the religious argument topple like a house of cards is the simple fact that not everyone has the same religion and so there is no single religious yardstick to measure standards of morality. In the eyes of Christians, Muslims and Buddhists for instance are but as wrong as homosexuals, drug addicts, rapists and murderers so do we really have to waste our time listening to their incessant chanting? It's time they get down their biblical high horses and give their due respect to people of other faith and creed.

Although the above is not as simple to argue on a non-secular platform, the debate for homosexuality actually stems from the same spine. Different people have different moral values and that's that. Although some things like genocide and terrorism are unmistakably wrong, this is when the legal system kicks in and rule against such crimes. Morals and legal sanctions shouldn't and mustn't be confused as two hand-in-hand concepts though they do overlap. The difference is that the latter is black-and-white while the former is grey. Laws undoubtedly serve their useful purpose in society but beyond the penal code is a world of grey and judgements cannot be passed as simply. Homosexuality belongs in this realm of grey alongside euthanasia, abortion or even cannibalism (as long as it is consensual and the one being eaten is not killed by the person eating him/her). The debate will be interminable and that's what makes it grey. I steadfastly stand in my camp because at the end of the day, no one can dictate how and who a person loves. Who is to say one's love is wrong?

Finally we come to the numbers game but we have to ask ourselves is everything always a clear-cut case of "majority wins"? Proponents of this time-worn adage have long used it to partly, if not wholly justify the slavery of Blacks, discrimination against women and the marginalisation of the handicapped. But each of these acts of oppression have been gradually driven to extinction as the world is becoming more rational and compassionate. So why not extend this warm feeling to homosexuality now since by way of historic trends, homosexuality will inevitably become a non-issue in the future? Why not make its realisation sooner? Many countries are slowly getting there (Netherlands, Belgium, the state of Massachusetts and several states in Canada legalize gay marriages) but the majority is still deep-rooted in the quagmire of prejudice and ignorance. Homosexuals deserve the same rights as everyone else even if they are the minority since we are but as normal as Blacks, women and the handicapped. 

I always believe that a country's progress in the race to better humanity can be gauged reliably by its acceptance of homosexuals, which I term "the final frontier". In millions of years to come, if aliens were to reach and reside on our planet, they will no doubt face the same problems of being the minority and "the final frontier" (I think I have been dwelling in too much science-fiction). What I want to say is -- give us a god-damn f***ing break already."

As you can see, I had a pretty strong stance and conviction in my words back then. Although I am much mellower now, the activist in me is still very much alive. As we all step onto this non-stop freight train to marriage equality, let's take a moment to celebrate how far we have come along and use this positive energy to gear us up for the final legs of this battle. I always tell people that I see the legalisation of gay marriage in Australia in three years' time. I have not felt more confident about that than I do now.


savante said...

The world is changing, and I'm glad we're of an age to see it do so!

Kim said...

Well said savante. Thanks for dropping by my blog!