Gays, rights and ethics

Should people confront prejudice? Is it the moral duty of individuals and governments to expose and challenge prejudice, whether racial, sexual or otherwise? Or do people have a right to believe what they believe?

It’s difficult in many societies to be lenient about sexual conduct or orientation. Sex remains associated with honour. The sexual conduct of an individual affects his/her surrounding, especially the family. In some Middle Eastern countries there is the killing for honour when a girl or a woman is suspected of having sexual relation outside marriage is killed by her nearest relative, be it a brother or a father. In such countries the maximum sentence for such killing is one year imprisonment. So it will be hard that in such countries that homosexuality will be tolerated. One of the worst names to call someone by is “gay”. This doesn’t mean homosexuality doesn’t exist in these countries, but it is considered as a taboo practised in hiding. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punishable by death. So in this country activists should call for the sentence to be reduced at least by imprisonment. Asking for gay rights in Saudi Arabia is hard to achieve.

In Egypt, a film The Yacoubian Building caused uproar in 2006 because of depicting homosexuality. This means homosexuality is a taboo in whatever forms although it is a part of its reality.

For Muslim countries, religion is a key factor in judging people’s conduct. Homosexuality is considered as one of the biggest sins. There is only death and hell for those who practice it although in Muslim Arabic culture there are works depicting homosexuality as in the poems of Abu Nuwas. So in a sense it is tolerated to discuss this issue from a past era than to deal with it as it is at present.

In Moroccan society, gays are just subject to jokes and contempt. There is no established culture to defend them. There is a Gay association called KifKif for Moroccan gays living abroad. Such associations are banned. But gays caught in the act are relatively leniently punished as they have to spend six months in prison compared to Saudi Arabia where they are merely executed. In Moroccan society the worst thing that can affect parents or families is to have a gay among them. Having a son in prison for crime or drug trafficking is benign compared to having him there for homosexuality. In this country gays are known in their surrounding, but at least they aren’t surrounded by the threat of arrest as long as they keep discretion.

In fact it can be easy to persuade people to change their concept of any other form of prejudice, racial or about gender. But sex remains a contentious issue. Transgender and same sex intimacy through free relation or marriage will remain a taboo in many conservative societies as long as sex remains an important aspect of socially accepted identity governed by religious influence. In a sense, sex remains an area surrounded by different boundaries. One can’t have sex in all possible ways as there are taboos like incest, homosexuality, and paedophilia that will surely continue to raise endless debates about where boundaries should begin and end.

Homosexuality can be accepted in societies that have made giant steps in establishing human rights. Societies still struggling to establish basic human rights like freedom of speech and free election consider gay rights as of trivial importance. Gays considered as a minority are seen of minor importance when it comes to their rights but a great danger to social ethics if they become publicly vocal. When talked about publicly they’re seen as a pathological case that needs help. Homosexuality isn’t openly considered as a natural orientation. It’s very difficult for gays in morally conservative societies to find open acceptance. They will continue to be seen as sinners worthy of punishment rather than consideration.

So far it has never been heard of lesbians punished in a Muslim society. Homosexuality seems to mean sexual intercourse between males. There is no religious punishment for women indulging in the same sex as religiously homosexuality means sodomy. This should raise further debates about the particular meaning of homosexuality in Muslim societies.

Prejudice is inherent in many societies because of the rejection of the specificities of different groups because of their culture or orientation. Shock can just aggravate prejudices as it provides opponents with ammunition to charge against each other. If dialogue is impossible, it’s better to let things stand where they are. In societies where homosexuality is practised discretely without causing outrage, it’s better for gays to be contented with their secret practices rather than come out to ask for the recognition they can never get.


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6 Comments

  1. Hisham said,

    October 26, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Abdelilah!

  2. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    October 26, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks Hisham for your comment.

  3. Anonymous said,

    October 26, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    The ‘WHYS’ programme aired tonight on this topic had some serious ‘flaws’. Was it biased? I leave that judgment to the readers & listeners.

    To the best of my knowledge & belief there is NO scientific evidence that homosexuality is ‘something you are born with’. If there is, I would like someone (especially the people on the ‘panel’) to give me references of scientific articles, published wherever, AND for which peer review validates those findings.

    To bring a person with cerebral palsy and a blind person on a programme which deals with homosexuality in particular & prejudice in general is ‘incorrect’ or ‘it isn’t cricket’. In my view it almost demeans people with cerebral palsy or those who are blind or those who suffer from provable congenital or ‘medical’ disorders.

    Cerebral Palsy:
    ‘The Chambers Dictionary’ defines it as “a form of congenital paralysis marked by lack of muscular coordination, etc;”.

    Blindness (My knowledge of it):
    Blindness is a ‘medical’ condition, or an ‘acquired’ condition. ‘Medical’, in the sense that, it may be congenital or due to ‘AMD’ (Age-Related Macular Degeneration’) & whatever other medical (scientific) reasons. ‘Acquired’ in the sense that it may be caused by an accident, or someone is deliberately blinded by another person.

    Homosexual:
    ‘The Chambers Dictionary’ defines it as “having or pertaining to sexual attraction to members of one’s own sex”. (Please NOTE there is NO mention of congenital etc.)

    One other factor is ‘cultural’ or ‘societal’. Mr. Abdelilah Boukili has already expressed certain views in this regard. As far as I know, the Muslims had cumulative ‘issues’ with homosexuality around the time of the start of their religion. Consequently, their religion takes a particular or ‘strict’ view which I understand to be generally against homosexuality.

    My opinion or reaction – so be it. I respect their point of view or the stance of their religion. Is it NOT the choice of Muslims to run their societies the way they want? If they are coming to non-Muslim societies & insisting that homosexuals be treated by others as they treat them THEN they can be accused of interfering in the affairs of other societies, etc. On the flip side; who or what evidence has given the ‘WEST’ the right to call Muslims or people of other religions & societies as being uncivilized or ignorant or whatever? As they say – ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison’!

    Some time ago there was a programme on homosexuality where people from Jamaica in particular, or the West Indies, in general, were interviewed. Almost all of those interviewed expressed opinions to the effect that – ‘homosexuality IS NOT and WILL NOT be tolerated in their society’. This led the presenter to ask whether external help would change that. What?! Almost every African brother of mine that I have spoken to has expressed views similar to those of the Jamaicans or ‘West Indians’. They freely admit that they enjoy sex, BUT ONLY with women! And the world has the audacity to blame them for the origin of HIV and ‘AIDS’! Don’t give me a break! Give me a triple break!

    This brings me to the ‘general’ or ‘generalized’ point:

    ‘Is it not a prejudice to expect others to believe as you believe’?

    I think the word ‘civilized’ is a very loaded word and must be used very CAREFULLY. The history of Islam & the Muslims shows that in many ways they were more ‘civilized’ than the ‘West’. So, what do we conclude? You tell me!

    Finally, I would just say that in a world riven by conflict it is NOT a good idea to trumpet ideas which have no foundation in science; as it will simply lead to more conflict. As someone ‘texted’ to the programme: ‘What if that wrist-band said pedophile’. I would add to that list: ‘sex with animals’, ‘serial killer’, ‘gang rapist’, ’mass murderer’, ‘polygamist’, and so on.

    Think about it!

    Dictatore Generale Max Maximilian Maximus I

  4. Looney said,

    October 27, 2007 at 12:39 am

    I like most of what you write. Of course, living near San Francisco, we get a very different take on homosexuality. AIDS swept away most of a generation of gays, but more have come here to replace them. In spite of this, we are constantly told that we need to allow gay marriage (and all of the government and private subsidies which go with this) because most gays form loving long term relationships. Government funded propaganda is everywhere.

    My kids local high school has no problem bringing in gay advocacy groups to teach sexual morality, but it is illegal to teach views from the Bible.

    One thing I always remember, however, is that Islamic societies today are largely built on top of societies which had formerly been extremely promiscuous.

  5. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    October 27, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Thanks Maximilian Maximus I for’ you insightful comment.

  6. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    October 27, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Hi Looney,

    Sexuality or rather homosexuality will continue to raise debates even in open societies. In Muslim countries sexual freedom of whatever form is taboo. One can have sex legally just within marriage.

    It’s true current Muslim societies in the past were promiscuous and they still are but this time under cover as it is punishable to be so. In Muslim societies, it will take time before sexual freedom is recognized. I guess this will take centuries.


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