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Kabous le Roux argues our prejudice based on sexual orientation is not harmless.
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Imagine being brutally raped. Your rapist despises your green eyes (most people do). He intends to fix you. You should be grateful.
Why do we overlook corrective rape of homosexuals? Would it be as prevalent in society if it was about “correcting” eye colour? Would it exist if it was about “correcting” black (or white) skin?
If it’s hard to imagine a scourge of rape to “correct” features such as eye or skin colour why is there such a plague of corrective rape of homosexuals in South Africa?
Why do good people stay silent when someone is raped and murdered because they are gay? Why is this scourge so far down our, admittedly, long list of things to be outraged by? Do good folks like us really care more about rhinos than violence against homosexuals? Unfortunately, we do and this makes us part of the problem.
According to the South African Social Attitudes Survey (2007), when asking South Africans the question “Do you think it is wrong or not wrong for two adults of the same sex to have sexual relations”, 92 percent said it was wrong.
Most of us, though prejudiced, would never harm someone because they are gay. Yet we allow demons to run amok, because our intolerance causes us to lack compassion. It’s simply not an issue we care about. We don’t approve of homosexuals, so we’re not that interested. We’re not violent, but we let violence reign. Some of us even blame the victims.
Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Yet many people still cling to the false belief that homosexuality is “a sin against nature”.
Not every sexual act has a reproductive function; that’s true of humans and non-humans. Sex for non-reproductive reasons is widespread, and essential, among social birds and mammals, especially sea mammals and primates.
Every single Bonobo that has ever been observed by humans is bisexual. Male lions sometimes, probably to strengthen bonds and ensure allegiance, have sex with each other. Homosexuality among dolphins is very common. In fact, pairing of males and females is usually short-lived while male pairs can stay together for years.
According to famed zoologist Petter Bøckman of the Museum of Natural History in Oslo, no species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that are hermaphroditic or those that never have sex at all.
Homosexuality is as normal and natural as can be. It’s homophobia that is perverse and a sin against nature.
Most homophobic people are unaware of their prejudice because they would never call a homosexual person a “faggot” or a “dyke” and they would never commit a violent act against them. The problem, however, or so I believe, is not the unashamed “I hate the gays” type of homophobia. It’s the more subtle kind that most of us are unaware we’re guilty of.
Society teaches us to be homophobic; we should not be too hard on ourselves. We are not bad people. Acknowledging our own homophobia is a painful process that most people, consciously or unconsciously, try to avoid. This is, however, the only way to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
There is no shame in being prejudiced; all humans are to some degree. What is wicked, however, is refusing to search our souls and failing to acknowledge our own intolerance where it exists.
Do you ever say or do any of the following things?: (I confess that I am guilty of one or two of these. I am not proud; I’m working hard to change… )
Stare at a gay couple. What is so interesting about two people holding hands? Do you stare at heterosexual couples?
Use the word “gay” as a synonym for stupid. You’d never say “Oh, house music is so Afrikaner!” or “The new Transformers movie is so heterosexual!”
Make gay jokes then defend them by saying “It’s only a joke!” Or perhaps you felt uncomfortable with a friend’s homophobic statement, but kept silent for fear of being labelled gay yourself? Or maybe you laugh along even though you don’t find the joke funny?
I’m not homophobic, but…
I have gay friends. Why does this need a mention?
Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay… If you honestly believed there’s nothing wrong with being gay then it would go without saying and you would not need this disclaimer.
Suggesting two people should date because they happen to both be gay. Your intentions are pure; however these people must have something more in common than the mere fact of them both being gay. Think about it this way; just because you are heterosexual it doesn’t mean you would want to date some stranger you have nothing in common with other than the fact that she or he is heterosexual as well.
Refer to someone as “my gay friend”. Do you ever refer to your hetero friend as “my heterosexual friend”?
Refer to homosexuality as a “lifestyle”. Homosexuality is as much a lifestyle as heterosexuality is one, which makes saying so meaningless.
Assume all your colleagues, classmates or whomever you meet is heterosexual.
Feel repelled by a gay couple’s public display of affection while accepting the same display by heterosexuals.
Assume that lesbians are all butch and gay men are all feminine.
Wonder who is “the man” and who is “the woman” in a gay couple.
Meet someone who is gay and automatically think about their sexuality.
I’m a Christian (or Muslim, etc.) and the Bible (or Quran, etc.) is clear on homosexuality
The Bible is, seemingly, clear on homosexuality. It is an “abomination” (Leviticus 11:9-12) much like women speaking in church (1 Corinthians 14:34), women not covering their heads (1 Corinthians 11:6) and shrimp cocktail (Leviticus 11:12). Slavery, however, is OK (1 Timothy 6:1-2) and so is polygamy (examples too numerous to mention).
Defending your homophobia with scripture is intellectually dishonest. Why do you discard Leviticus 19:19 (prohibiting clothes which combines materials) but live by Leviticus 11:9-12?
You are being deceitful when you say “The Bible teaches that homosexuality is sinful”. If you said “my interpretation of the Bible is that being gay is sinful” then at least you would be honest.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 compels formerly virginal rape victims to marry their rapist (they may never get a divorce). Do you accept and support this shocking prescription? Of course not! We all pick and choose from the Bible. You are not forced to condemn homosexuality because of the Bible just like you are not forced to condemn divorce (Matthew 5:32), tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) or loan interest (Deuteronomy 23: 19-20).
How do you square your condemnation of homosexuality with the following passages?
“Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
Extreme acts of homophobia will become rare only when the subtler kind stops being so pervasive. By accepting we may be part of the problem we empower ourselves to become part of the solution.
We must change ourselves if we want to change our society.
Kabous le Roux is a digital content producer at EWN.