Hardly a day goes by when some prominent person or another doesn’t rile against homosexuality. The Indian health minister, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad was the latest in this illustrious line-up, commenting in a speech to health workers that MSM (males having sex with males, the latest euphemism for gay people) was a disease. In a speech made to NACO workers, Mr. Azad termed homosexuality (no, I’m not giving credence to the new terminology) “unnatural”, a “disease” and “not good for India”. Once the LGBT community raised the red (rainbow? ;)) flag and criticism started pouring in, Mr. Azad ‘clarified’ his stand and said the “disease” he was referring to was AIDS and not gay sex per se. He held, though, that gay sex was unnatural and something that had come up in India only in the last few years.
Now, there’s no practical reason for calling homosexuality a disease anymore. Of course, there will be people who disagree, but in technical terms it’s no longer part of the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.
“Unnatural” of course is a term often thrown in the face of what are perceived as ‘deviant’ sexual practices; homosexuality, probably of its prevalence, has been at the forefront of every religious proscription of ‘aberrant sexual behaviour’. People still call it an ‘abomination’, ‘not of god’, ‘against divine order’ and so on.
I wonder though, what exactly is the big deal even if homosexuality is unnatural? By unnatural I mean, against the order of nature. Homosexuality is rare in animals, I know. But so what? Why should our behaviour and our standards of conduct be modelled on animals anyway? Gay sex is not usual among animals, true, but it is commoner than wearing clothes. Should we all walk around naked then? Homosexuality is rare among other species, but it’s commoner than cooked food. Should we then all start eating raw meat? Sexual subjugation of females is quite prominent among animals, as is cannibalism, are we to follow their example under the umbrella term of “the natural order of things”?
We are, as far as we know the only truly sentient specie on earth. We have a cognitive process more complex than other known species and a consciousness definitely more evolved than others. Therefore, it follows that we have a greater capacity to make informed decisions and consider our welfare with greater clarity. So we wear clothes, and cook food and use technology. And we choose our sexual partners. We don’t rape, we don’t eat other’s children and we don’t use sex as a weapon of domination. At least we acknowledge any such actions as inhuman when they are committed.
When we do not follow animal or ‘natural’ rules in so many spheres of our lives, why do they suddenly crop up in this sphere? Whatever homosexuality is, it is certainly not a disease nor is it an abomination and whatever you believe the ‘order of nature’ is, homosexuality isn’t unnatural either.