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SEXUAL ORIENTATION We express the direction of our sexual interest in our sexual orientation--our enduring sexual attraction toward

members of a particular gender. As far as we know, all cultures in all times have been predominantly heterosexual (Bullough, 1990). Yet, cultures vary in their attitude toward homosexuality. Whether a culture condemns and punishes homosexuality or views it as an acceptable alternative, homosexuality survives and heterosexuality prevails. Homosexual people often recall childhood play preferences like those of the other sex (Bailey & Zucker, 1995). But most homosexual people report not becoming aware of same-gender sexual feelings until during or shortly after puberty, and not thinking of themselves as gay or lesbian until around age 20 (Garnets & Kimmel, 1990).

How many people are exclusively homosexual? Until recently, the popular press assumed a homosexuality rate of 10 percent. But in both Europe and the United States, more than a dozen national surveys in the early 1990s explored sexual orientation, using methods that protected the respondent's anonymity. Their results agree in suggesting that a more accurate figure is about 3 or 4 percent of men and 1 to 2 percent of women (Laumann & others, 1994; Smith, 1996). Less than 1 percent of the respondents reported being actively bisexual, but a larger number of adults reported having had an isolated homosexual experience. And most people said they had had an occasional homosexual fantasy. Although health experts find it helpful to know sexual statistics, numbers do not decide issues of human rights. Similarly, it's helpful in manufacturing school desks to know that about 10 percent of people are left-handed. But whether left-handers are 3 percent or 10 percent of the population doesn't answer the moral question of whether lefties should enjoy equal rights. What does it feel like to be homosexual in a heterosexual culture? One way for heterosexual people to understand is to imagine how they would feel...

if they were to be ostracized or fired for openly admitting or displaying their feelings toward someone of the other sex; if they were to overhear people making crude jokes about heterosexual people; if most movies, TV shows, and advertisements portrayed (or implied) homosexuality; and if their family members were pleading with them to change their heterosexual life-style and to enter into a homosexual marriage.

Facing such reactions, homosexual people often struggle with their sexual orientation.

At first, they may try to ignore or deny their desires, hoping they will go away. But they don't. Then they may try to change, through psychotherapy, willpower, or prayer. But the feelings typically persist, as do those of heterosexual people--who are similarly incapable of becoming homosexual (Haldeman, 1994). Eventually, homosexuals may accept their orientation by electing celibacy (as do some heterosexuals);

by engaging in promiscuous sex (a choice more commonly made by men than by women); or by entering into a committed, long-term love relationship (a choice more often made by women than by men) (Peplau, 1982; Weinberg & Williams, 1974).

Most psychologists today view sexual orientation as neither willfully chosen nor willfully changed. Sexual orientation in some ways is like handedness: Most people are one way, some the other. A very few are truly ambidextrous. Regardless, the way one is endures. Nor is sexual orientation linked with psychological disorder or sexual crime. "Child molester" is not a sexual orientation. Some homosexuals do abuse children, but most child molesters are heterosexual males (Gonsiorek, 1982). These facts led the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 to drop homosexuality from its list of "mental illnesses." Understanding Sexual Orientation If our sexual orientation is indeed something we do not choose and cannot change, then where do these preferences come from? How do we move toward either a heterosexual or a homosexual orientation? Is homosexuality linked with problems in a child's relationships with parents, such as with a domineering mother and an ineffectual father or a possessive mother and a hostile father? As children, were many homosexuals molested, seduced, or otherwise sexually victimized by an adult homosexual? Are children who observe homosexual role models (such as parents) more likely to become homosexual? Consider the findings of lengthy Kinsey Institute interviews with nearly 1000 homosexuals and 500 heterosexuals (Bell & others, 1981; Hammersmith, 1982). The investigators assessed nearly every imaginable psychological cause of homosexuality--parental relationships, childhood sexual experiences, peer relationships, dating experiences. Their findings: Homosexuals were no more likely than heterosexuals to have been smothered by maternal love, neglected by their father, or sexually abused. More recent studies have also found that sons of homosexual men were not more likely to become gay if they lived with their gay dad, and that 9 in 10 children of lesbian mothers developed into heterosexuals (Bailey & others, 1995; Golombok & Tasker, 1996).

If even being reared by a homosexual parent has no appreciable influence on sexual orientation, then having a gay or lesbian teacher or bus driver also seems unlikely to have an appreciable influence. Homosexual people do, however, appear more often in certain populations: In America's dozen largest cities, the percentage of men identifying themselves as gay jumps to 9 percent, compared with only 1 percent in rural areas (Binson & others, 1995; Laumann & others, 1994). One study of the biographies of 1004 eminent people found homosexual and bisexual people overrepresented (11 percent of the sample), especially among poets (24 percent), fiction writers (21 percent), and artists and musicians (15 percent) (Ludwig, 1995). For uncertain reasons, men who have older brothers are somewhat more likely to be gay, report Ray Blanchard and his colleagues (1995, 1996a,b, 1997). Assuming the odds of homosexuality are roughly 3 percent among first sons, they rise to 4 percent among second sons and 5 percent for third sons.

So, what determines sexual orientation? One theory proposes that people develop same-sex erotic attachments if segregated by gender at the time their sex drive matures (Storms, 1981). But even in a tribal culture in which homosexual behavior is expected of all boys before marriage, heterosexuality prevails (Money, 1987). (As this illustrates, homosexual behavior does not always indicate a homosexual orientation.) Another theory proposes the opposite: that people develop romantic attachments to those who differ from, and thus are more fascinating than, the peers they associated with while growing up (Bell, 1982). The bottom line from a half-century's theory and research: If there are environmental factors that influence sexual orientation, we do not yet know what they are. If someone were to ask me, "What can I do to influence my child's sexual orientation?" my answer would have to be "I haven't a clue."

The Brain and Sexual Orientation New research indicates that sexual orientation is at least partly physiological. Researcher Simon LeVay (1991) discovered this while studying sections of the hypothalamus taken from deceased heterosexual and homosexual people.

As a gay scientist, LeVay wanted to do "something connected with my gay identity," but he knew he had to avoid biasing the results. So he did the study "blind," without knowing which donors were gay. After nine months of peering through his microscope at a cell cluster he thought might be important, LeVay sat down one morning and broke the codes. His discovery: The cell cluster was reliably larger in heterosexual men than in women and homosexual men. As the brain difference became apparent, "I was almost in a state of shock ... I took a walk by myself on the cliffs over the ocean. I sat for half an hour just thinking what this might mean" (LeVay, 1994). It should not surprise us that brains differ with sexual orientation. Remember our maxim: Although we find it convenient to talk separately of psychological and biological explanations, everything psychological is simultaneously biological. The critical questions are, can this finding be replicated? If so, when does the brain difference begin? At conception? In the womb? During childhood or adolescence? Does experience produce the difference? Or do genes or prenatal hormones (or genes via prenatal hormones)? LeVay does not view this little neural center as a sexual orientation center; rather, he sees it as an important part of the neural pathway engaged in sexual behavior. Moreover, he acknowledges that it's possible that sexual behavior patterns influence the brain's anatomy. (In fish, rats, birds, and humans, brain structures are known to vary with experience.) But he believes it more likely that brain anatomy influences sexual orientation. Laura Allen and Roger Gorski (1992) offered a similar conclusion after discovering that a section of the fibers connecting right and left hemispheres is one-third larger in homosexual men than in heterosexual men. "The emerging neuroanatomical picture," notes Brian Gladue (1994), "is that, in some brain areas, homosexual men are more likely to have female-typical neuroanatomy than are heterosexual men."

Genes and Sexual Orientation The evidence suggests that genetic influence plays a role (Whitam & others, 1993). One research team studied the twin brothers of homosexual men. Among their identical twin brothers, 52 percent were homosexual, as were 22 percent of fraternal twin brothers (Bailey & Pillard, 1991, 1995). In a follow-up study of homosexual women, a similar 48 percent of their identical twins were homosexual, as were 16 percent of their fraternal twins (Bailey & others, 1993). With half the identical twin pairs differing, we know that genes aren't the whole story. Moreover, a new study using a diverse sample of Australian twins found somewhat lower rates of sexual

similarity--although, again, identical twins were more likely than fraternal twins to share homosexual feelings (Bailey & others, 1997). This is the sort of pattern we expect to see when genes are having an influence. Moreover, with a single transplanted gene, scientists can now cause male fruit flies to display homosexual behavior (Zhang & Odenwald, 1995).

Prenatal Hormones and Sexual Orientation The elevated rate of similar homosexual orientation even in fraternal twins might also result from their sharing the same prenatal environment. In animals, abnormal prenatal hormone conditions have altered the sexual orientation of a fetus. German researcher Gunter Dorner (1976, 1988) pioneered this research by manipulating a fetal rat's exposure to male hormones, thereby "inverting" its sexual behavior toward rats of the other sex. Female sheep will likewise show homosexual behavior if their pregnant mothers are injected with testosterone during a critical gestation period (Money, 1987). Atypical prenatal hormones may produce similar results in humans. A critical period for the human brain's neural-hormonal control system may exist between the middle of the second and fifth months after conception (Ellis & Ames, 1987; Gladue, 1990; Meyer-Bahlburg, 1995). It seems that exposure to the hormone levels typically experienced by female fetuses during this time may predispose the person (whether female or male) to be attracted to males in later life. Some tests reveal that homosexual men have spatial abilities like those typical of heterosexual women--a pattern consistent with the hypothesis that homosexuals were exposed to atypical prenatal hormones (Gladue, 1994; McCormick & Witelson, 1991). Curiously, gay men also have fingerprint patterns rather like those of heterosexual women. Most people have more fingerprint ridges on their right hand. Jeff Hall and Doreen Kimura (1994) observed that this right-versus-left difference is less true of females and gay males than of heterosexual males--a difference that these researchers believe is due to prenatal hormones. Because the physiological evidence is preliminary and controversial, some scientists remain skeptical. Rather than specifying sexual orientation, perhaps biological factors predispose a temperament that influences sexuality "in the context of individual learning and experience" (Byne & Parsons, 1993). Perhaps, theorizes Daryl Bem (1996), genes code for prenatal hormones and brain anatomy, which predispose temperaments that lead children to prefer sex-typical or sex-atypical activities and friends. These preferences may lead children later to feel attracted to whichever sex feels different. Boys with feminine interests may find masculine males exotic. This could explain why, in personal ads, gay men tend to seek masculine partners and lesbians feminine partners (Bailey & others, 1997).

The dissimilar-seeming sex (one's own, for homosexual people) becomes associated with anxiety and other forms of arousal, which eventually gets transformed into romantic arousal. The exotic becomes erotic. Regardless of the process, the consistency of the genetic, prenatal, and brain findings has swung the pendulum toward a physiological explanation. Nature more than nurture, most psychiatrists now believe, predisposes sexual orientation (Vreeland & others, 1995). If biological influences prove critical (perhaps especially in certain environmental contexts), it would explain why sexual orientation is so difficult to change.

Still, some people wonder: Should the cause of sexual orientation matter? Maybe it shouldn't, but people's assumptions matter. Those who believe (as most homosexual people believe) that sexual orientation is a biological given--an enduring identity, not a choice-express more accepting attitudes toward homosexual persons (Allen & others, 1996; Furnham & Taylor, 1990; Whitley, 1990). In American surveys, agreement that homosexuality is "something that people are born with" doubled from 16 to 31 percent between 1983 and 1993. Over roughly the same period, support for equal job rights for homosexuals increased from 59 to 80 percent (Moore, 1993). Between 1982 and 1996, agreement that "homosexuality should be an acceptable alternative lifestyle" also increased, from 34 to 44 percent (Gallup, 1996). Accepting attitudes are most common among women and those with a gay or lesbian friend or relative (Herek & Capitanio, 1996; Kite & Whitley, 1996). To gay and lesbian activists, the new biological research is a double-edged sword (Diamond, 1993). If sexual orientation, like skin color and sex, is genetically influenced, that offers a further rationale for civil rights protection. Moreover, it may alleviate parents' concerns about their children having gay teachers and role models. It does, however, raise the haunting possibility that genetic markers of sexual orientation could someday be identified through fetal testing, and the fetus aborted.

Sex and Human Values Recognizing that values are both personal and cultural, most sex researchers and educators strive to keep their writings on sexuality value-free. But can the study of sexual behavior and what motivates it really be free of values? Those who think not say that the very words we use to describe behavior often reflect our personal values. When sex researchers label sexually restrained individuals as "erotophobic" and as having "high sex guilt," they express their own values.

Whether we label sexual acts we do not practice as "perversions," "deviations," or part of an "alternative sexual life-style" depends on our attitudes toward the behaviors. Labels both describe and evaluate. When education about sex is separated from the context of human values, some students may get the idea that sexual intercourse is merely recreational activity. Diana Baumrind (1982), a University of California child-rearing expert, has observed that adolescents interpret sex education that pretends to be "value-free" as meaning that adults are neutral about adolescent sexual activity. Such an implication is unfortunate, she added, because "promiscuous recreational sex poses certain psychological, social, health, and moral problems that must be faced realistically." Researchers have found that teenagers who have had formal sex education are no more likely to engage in premarital sex than those who have not (Furstenberg & others, 1985; Zelnik & Kim, 1982). Moreover, we enrich our lives by knowing ourselves, by realizing that others share our feelings, by understanding what is likely to please or displease our loved one. Witness the crumbling of falsehoods about homosexuality. Witness the growing realization that some types of sexually explicit material can lead people to devalue or hurt others. Perhaps we can agree that the knowledge provided by sex research is preferable to ignorance, yet also agree that researchers' values should be stated openly, enabling us to debate them and to reflect on our own values. We might also remember that scientific research on sexual motivation does not aim to define the personal meaning of sex in our own lives. One can know every available fact about sex--that the initial spasms of male and female orgasm come at 0.8-second intervals, that the female nipples expand 10 millimeters at the peak of sexual arousal, that systolic blood pressure rises some 60 points and the respiration rate to 40 breaths per minute--but fail to understand the human significance of sexual intimacy. Surely one significance of sexual intimacy is its expression of our deeply social nature. Sex is a socially significant act. Men and women can achieve orgasm alone, yet most people find greater satisfaction while embracing their loved one. There is a yearning for closeness in sexual motivation. Sex at its human best is life-uniting and love-renewing.
http://www.soulforce.org/article/644 This question asks for scientific explanations rather than religious or moralistic answers. Unfortunately, there is not yet a conclusive study which tell us exactly what causes homosexuality. Many studies show correlations, but there is not an accepted scientific consensus on the cause of homosexuality. All credible scientific organizations state that sexual orientation is influenced by biological factors and

environmental factors (scientifically speaking, the hormonal environment of the womb is considered an "environmental factor'), and that it cannot be changed, as it is innate and set at birth. In studies with twins, researchers have found that far more of them are likely to share the same sexuality than with siblings that do not share the same DNA; however, the number falls short of 100%. These results show that there is a high correlation with a person's genetic makeup and their sexuality. Neurologically speaking, gay men tend to have brains similar in structure and function to that of straight women, and lesbians tend to have brains similar to straight men. Certain neurological responses, like the startle response, also show this correlation. The same is also present in other species (yes, many animals exhibit bisexual or even primarily homosexual behavior.) There have been other trends documented, such as the fact that the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he will identify as gay, and this is true even when the boy is not raised with his older brothers. Gay men are also more likely to be lefthanded. The ratio of the length of the index finger to the ring finger, which is caused by hormones in utero and does not change as one grows older, also shows correlations between gay men and straight women, and lesbians and straight men. Some theories include that the hormonal balance of the womb, which influences sex development (whether or not the child is a boy or girl or intersex), influences a child's predisposition to a certain sexual orientation. If a female and a male are twins, sometimes the testosterone from the male affects the female embryo's development. Females thus affected are more likely to develop lesbian tendencies than other females. Considering the 26th pair of chromosomes in humans, due to particular rare genetic factors, some people born with XX chromosomes become males as opposed to females and some people born with XY chromosomes become females as opposed to male. These people are more likely to exhibit homosexual behaviour. So "nature" determines one's overall predisposition to a certain orientation, but "nurture" (the environment and experiences of one after birth) may influence other aspects of one's sexual preference, like ideal traits in a partner, fetishes, etc. However, this is a highly complex question, and there is still much more research to be done. Scientific studies on different aspects of this question are being released all the time in journals. As far as why homosexuality is a healthy trait for a species (and is thus encountered in nearly every animal species on our planet), there are several theories, but to make this point one needs to clarify the difference between a survival behavior and a cultural behavior. For instance, in current United States culture one of the larger causes of teen suicide is the hatred and rejection shown to homosexuals. This is a cultural behavior. The current United States culture chooses to show disdain and pass judgment on people who have a sexuality outside the cultural norm. This results in some teenage homosexuals committing suicide. Homosexual behavior in a society that has not condemned or sanctioned sexual behavior is considered normal and entertaining. This is still true in some modern countries and tribes, but the culture that most people will be familiar with is that of the ancient Romans and Greeks.

The Greeks believed that men who were in love would fight more fiercely for one another and honored their love in poems and theater. The most famous of these pairings was between Patroclus and Achilles in Homer's Illiad. Their culture believed that love was plural and that a man should love his wife and his friends. By their standards, someone who was only interested in women or only interested in men would be strange (though not despised). So the scientific explanation may simply be as simple as this: Our bodies have evolved to give us pleasurable feelings when we enact the act of reproduction whether it be to reproduce or not. Therefore, the scientific explanation for homosexual behavior is the same reason for heterosexual behavior or masturbation. . . it feels good. That is not a flippant or intentionally funny answer either. Most human behavior can be reduced to two main goals: avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. As with all aspects of human nature, the origin of homosexual behavior must stem from evolution. Evolution leads to instinct, which in turn leads to the experiences of pleasure (to encourage us to do things) and pain (to ensure we do not harm ourselves). Although homosexual behavior has been observed among many species of animal, it is primarily (if not exclusively) found among social animals. So it fair to assume that being a social animal allows for homosexuality to exist as others within social groups as others can continue the species' survival. Within social groups there can be diversity, and this diversity can boost a species' survival. Human sexuality differs also from, say, a dog. A male dog would not be aroused by a female bitch unless she is in 'heat'. Humans do not follow this pattern of behavior as straight men may find women attractive even when they are not ovulating at the time. In fact, only three species on Earth have heterosexual sex outside the 'optimum' period for reproduction: chimpanzees, dolphins and humans; these three species are often regarded as the most 'intelligent' species on the planet. This indicates that some time in our evolutionary past a 'break' occurred between sex and reproduction and this proved, from an evolutionary point of view, highly successful. So it is possible to see that homosexuality was part of a broader evolutionary past and this led to the richness of diversity of human nature today, of which one of the results was homosexuality.

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_scientific_explanation_for_homosexual_behavior#ixzz1YOrYv 5Sx

Homosexual behavior due to genetics and environmental factors

Published: Saturday, June 28, 2008 - 17:21 in Psychology & Sociology

Homosexual behaviour is largely shaped by genetics and random environmental factors, according to findings from the world's largest study of twins. Writing in the scientific journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm report that genetics and environmental factors (which are specific to an individual, and may include biological processes such as different hormone exposure in the womb), are important determinants of homosexual behaviour. Dr Qazi Rahman, study co-author and a leading scientist on human sexual orientation, explains: "This study puts cold water on any concerns that we are looking for a single 'gay gene' or a single environmental variable which could be used to 'select out' homosexuality - the factors which influence sexual orientation are complex. And we are not simply talking about homosexuality here - heterosexual behaviour is also influenced by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. The team led by Dr Niklas Lngstrm at Karolinska Institutet conducted the first truly population-based survey of all adult (20-47 years old) twins in Sweden. Studies of identical twins and non-identical, or fraternal, twins are often used to untangle the genetic and environmental factors responsible for a trait. While identical twins share all of their genes and their entire environment, fraternal twins share only half of their genes and their entire environment. Therefore, greater similarity in a trait between identical twins compared to fraternal twins shows that genetic factors are partly responsible for the trait. This study looked at 3,826 same-gender twin pairs (7,652 individuals), who were asked about the total numbers of opposite sex and same sex partners they had ever had. The findings showed that 35 per cent of the differences between men in same-sex behaviour (that is, that some men have no same sex partners, and some have one or more) is accounted for by genetics. Rahman explains: "Overall, genetics accounted for around 35 per cent of the differences between men in homosexual behaviour and other individual-specific environmental factors (that is, not societal attitudes, family or parenting which are shared by twins) accounted for around 64 per cent. In other words, men become gay or straight because of different developmental pathways, not just one pathway." For women, genetics explained roughly 18 per cent of the variation in same-sex behaviour, nonshared environment roughly 64 per cent and shared factors, or the family environment, explained 16 per cent. The study shows that genetic influences are important but modest, and that non-shared environmental factors, which may include factors operating during foetal development, dominate. Importantly, heredity had roughly the same influence as shared environmental factors in women, whereas the latter had no impact on sexual behaviour in men. Dr Rahman adds: "The study is not without its limitations - we used a behavioural measure of sexual orientation which might be ok to use for men (men's psychological orientation, sexual behaviour, and sexual responses are highly related) but less so for women (who show a clearer

separation between these elements of sexuality). Despite this, our study provides the most unbiased estimates presented so far of genetic and non-genetic contributions to sexual orientation."
http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/06/28/homosexual.behavior.due.genetics.and.environmental.fa ctors

Homosexuality legal Same-sex marriage Other type of partnership (or unregistered cohabitation) Same-sex marriage recognized, but not performed Homosexuality legal but same-sex unions not recognized Homosexuality illegal Minimal penalty Large penalty Life in prison Death penalty

Description English: Supporters of the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity; from ILGA. Countries that oppose the declaration; from ILGA.

Homosexuality is currently illegal in 76 countries and punishable by death in five.[5] In its 1994 decision in Toonen v. Australia, The UN Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), declared that such laws are in violation of human rights law.[6] In 2003 a number of predominantly European countries put forward the Brazilian Resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission stating the intention that lesbian and gay rights be considered as fundamental as the rights of all human beings. In 2006, with the effort of its founder, Louis George Tin, International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) launched a worldwide campaign to end the criminalisation of same-sex relationships. The campaign was supported by dozens of international public figures including Nobel laureates, academics, clergy and celebrities. In 2008, the 34 member countries of the Organization of American States unanimously approved a declaration affirming that human rights protections extend to sexual orientation and gender identity.[6] Following meetings between Tin and French Minister of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs Rama Yade in early 2008, Yade announced that she would appeal at the UN for the universal

decriminalization of homosexuality; the appeal was quickly taken up as an international concern.[7] Co-sponsored by France, which then held the rotating presidency of the European Union, and The Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, the declaration had been intended as a resolution; it was decided to use the format of a declaration of a limited group of States because there was not enough support for the adoption of an official resolution by the General Assembly as a whole. The declaration was read out by Ambassador Jorge Argello of Argentina on 18 December 2008, and was the first declaration concerning gay rights read in the General Assembly.[3][8]

Homosexuality in India
Homosexuality is generally considered a taboo subject by both Indian civil society and the government. Public discussion of homosexuality in India has been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly. In recent years, however, attitudes towards homosexuality have shifted slightly. In particular, there have been more depictions and discussions of homosexuality in the Indian news media[1][2][3] and by Bollywood.[4] On 2 July 2009, the Delhi High Court decriminalised homosexual intercourse between consenting adults, throughout India,[5] where Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was adjudged to violate the fundamental right to life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India.[6] Several organisations like the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, the National AIDS Control Organisation,[7] Law Commission of India,[8] Union Health Ministry,[9] National Human Rights Commission[10] and The Planning Commission of India[11] have either implicitly, or expressly come out in support of decriminalising homosexuality in India, and pushed for tolerance and social equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. India is among countries with a social element of a third gender. Religion has played a role in shaping Indian customs and traditions. While homosexuality has not been explicitly mentioned in the religious texts central to Hinduism, the largest religion in India, Hinduism has taken various positions, ranging from positive to neutral or antagonistic. Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism says Vikruti Evam Prakriti (what seems un-natural is also natural), which some scholars believe recognises the cyclical constancy of homosexual/transsexual dimensions of human life , like all forms of universal diversities.[12] Historical literary evidence indicates that homosexuality has been prevalent across the Indian subcontinent throughout history, and that homosexuals were not necessarily considered inferior in any way.[13]

History and religion

Main article: LGBT history in India

LGBT culture in India

Since the de-criminalistion of homosexuality in India there has been a vibrant gay nightlife in metro cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. It is these metropolitan cities that have become the hub of the new Indian gay culture with its urban outlook and acceptance towards homosexuality. Although there are not many exclusive gay clubs and bars yet, most upscale straight bars and clubs in these cities have regular designated nights of the week tailored for gay clientele. The reports of harassment of homosexual individuals and gatherings by the police have seen a gradual decline since 2004. As the de-criminalisation of homosexuality in India is a very recent occurrence many people are still taking time getting used to idea of openly gay couples, which was never the norm, and there has been some opposition in that regard, but mostly by religious-fundamentalist leaders. However, many social and human rights activists have been working to promote an increased acceptance of homosexuality.[14][15] Time Out (Delhi) has a dedicated column covering gay events in Delhi every week. Now with the emergence of several LGBT support groups across the nation, the much hidden queer community has increased access to health services and social events[2] The Internet has created a prolific gay cyber culture for the South Asian community. Gay dating websites provide an alternative way for meeting people; online communities also offer a safe and convenient environment for meeting gays all around India.[16] The blogosphere has also not been immune to the modern emergence of a queer desi identity. Web logs highlight stories and issues specific to this marginalised community.[citation needed] With India becoming more open to homosexuality, several organisations in the country have recently started promoting the country as a destination for gay tourists from around the world.[17] Though Bollywood has gay and transsexual characters, they have been primarily ridiculed or abused. There are few positive portrayals of late like Onir's My Brother Nikhil, Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., and Parvati Balagopalan's Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula but they have been sporadic and not mainstream. There have also been a few independent films that deal with homosexuality like Sridhar Rangayan's Gulabi Aaina The Pink Mirror, Yours Emotionally, 68 Pages and Ashish Sawhney's Happy Hookers. The first Indian film to deal openly with homosexual relations was Fire by Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta. With its 1997 release in India it stirred up a heated controversy throughout the country. Recently Bollywood has appeared more tolerant toward homosexual relationships and has begun to portray them in a better light, such as in Dostana and Men Not Allowed. Actors of Indian descent have played homosexual roles in foreign movies. Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth played gay roles opposite each other in Shamim Sarif's I Can't Think Straight and The World Unseen. Jimi Mistry played a man trying to come out to his mother in Ian Iqbal Rashid's Touch of Pink. In 2010, a Tamil film Goa, dealt with gay couples, their love and romance. It was the first Tamil film to portray same-sex love.

Advocacy for legalising homosexuality

The Naz Foundation (India), a New Delhi based NGO is at the forefront of the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality. The organisation aims to sensitise the community to the prevalence of HIV, as well as highlight issues related to sexuality and sexual health. The organisation has strong linkages with human rights groups and agencies such as Lawyers Collective, Human Right Law Network, Amnesty International, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Naz India has collaborated with these agencies to address cases of sexual rights abuse. Naz Indias efforts in sensitising the government to different issues related to the epidemic include the amendment of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code commonly known as the Anti-sodomy Law. This act criminalises same sex sexual behaviour irrespective of the age and consent of the people involved, posing one of the most significant challenges in effective HIV/AIDS interventions with sexual minorities.[18] International pressure The United Nations urged India to decriminalise homosexuality by saying it would help the fight against HIV/AIDS by allowing intervention programmes, much like the successful ones in China and Brazil. Jeffrey O'Malley, director of the United Nations Development Programme on HIV/AIDS, said "countries protecting homosexuals from discrimination had better records of protecting them from getting infected by the diseases. [But] unfortunately in India, the rates of new infections among men who have sex with men continue to go up. Until we acknowledge these behaviours and work with people involved with these behaviours, we are not going to halt and reverse the HIV epidemic. Countries which protect men who have sex with men... have double the rate of coverage of HIV prevention servicesas much as 60 percent."[19] In talking to The Hindu, he added that "The United Progressive Alliance government here is in a difficult position as far as amending Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is concerned because of the coming elections as any changes could be misrepresented. We need to change the laws, sensitise the police and judiciary....But when discriminatory laws have been removed, marginalised people have got access to treatment and prevention facilities like condoms." Warning of the urgency he said, "India has achieved success in checking the spread of this dreaded disease through commercial sex workers but transmission through gay sex, and injectable-drug users is still an area of concern. Injectable-drug use can also be controlled through targeted interventions but is difficult to control or change peoples sexual orientation."[20]


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the sexual orientation. For other uses, see Lesbian (disambiguation).

The word lesbian can refer to a woman's identity, to desire, or to activity between women.

Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females.[1] The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an adjective, to describe characteristics of an object or activity related to female same-sex desire.[2] Lesbian as a concept, used to differentiate women with a shared sexual orientation, is a 20thcentury construct. Throughout history, women have not had the freedom or independence to pursue homosexual relationships as men have, but neither have they met the harsh punishment in some societies as homosexual men. Instead, lesbian relationships have often been regarded as harmless and incomparable to heterosexual ones unless the participants attempted to assert privileges traditionally enjoyed by men. As a result, little in history has been documented to give an accurate description of how female homosexuality has been expressed. When early sexologists in the late 19th century began to categorize and describe homosexual behavior, hampered by a lack of knowledge about lesbianism or women's sexuality, they distinguished lesbians as women who did not adhere to female gender roles and designated them mentally ill.


Gay is a word that commonly refers to a male or female whose sexual orientation is attraction to persons of the same sex. It was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy"; it had also come to acquire some connotations of "immorality" as early as 1637.[1] The term's use as a reference to homosexuality may date as early as the late 19th century, but its use gradually increased in the 20th century.[1] In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and occasionally as a noun, referring to the people, especially to men, and the practices and cultures associated with homosexuality. By the end of the 20th century, the word gay was recommended by major style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.[2][3] At about the same time, a new, pejorative use became prevalent in some parts of the world. In the Anglosphere, this connotation, among younger speakers, has a derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in "That's so gay."). In this use, the word does not mean "homosexual", so it can be used, for example, to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves. This usage can also refer to weakness or unmanliness. When used in this way, the extent to which it still retains connotations of homosexuality has been debated.[4][5]


Bisexuality is sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical and/or romantic attraction to both males and females, especially with regard to men and women.[1] It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with a heterosexual and a homosexual orientation, all a part of the heterosexualhomosexual continuum. Pansexuality may or may not be subsumed under bisexuality, with some sources stating that bisexuality encompasses sexual or romantic

attraction to all gender identities.[2][3] People who have a distinct but not exclusive preference for one sex over the other may also identify themselves as bisexual,[4] and people who lack sexual attraction to either sex or genders are known as asexual. Bisexuality has been observed in various human societies[5] and elsewhere in the animal kingdom[6][7][8] throughout recorded history. The term bisexuality, however, like the terms hetero- and homosexuality, was coined in the 19th century.[9


Transgender (pronounced /trnzdndr/) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles. Transgender is the state of one's "gender identity" (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one's "assigned sex" (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex).[1] "Transgender" does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

"Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these."[2] "People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves."[3] "Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth."[4]

A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as "other", "agender", "Genderqueer", or "third gender". Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years.[5]

LGBT rights in India



Homosexual intercourse was a criminal offence until 2009 under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This made it an offence for a person to voluntarily have "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." This law was struck down by the 2009 Supreme Court decision Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, which found Section 377 and other legal prohibitions against same-sex conduct to be in direct violation of fundamental rights provided by the Indian Constitution. Whilst convictions under Section 377 were rare,[citation needed] with no convictions at all for homosexual intercourse in the twenty years to 2009,[citation needed] Human Rights Watch have said that the law was used to harass HIV/AIDS prevention activists, as well as sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other LGBT groups.[1] The group documents arrests in Lucknow of four men in 2006 and another four[clarification needed] in 2001. The People's Union for Civil Liberties has published two reports of the rights violations faced by sexual minorities[2] and, in particular, transsexuals (hijras and kothis) in India.[3] Decisions of a High Court on the constitutionality of a law apply throughout India, and not just to the territory of the state over which the High Court in question has jurisdiction.[4] However, even after the pronouncement of verdict, there have been (rare) incidents of harassment of homosexual groups.[5]

[edit] Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was struck down in 2009 for consensual adults. The law continues to apply in the cases involving minors and coercive sex. The age of consent for both male and female homosexual sex is 18.

[edit] Recognition of same-sex relationships

Same-sex marriages are not legal in India. But that did not stop a Gurgaon court from effectively recognising a marriage between two lesbians.[6] Since marrying, the couple started receiving threats from friends and relatives in their village. Their lawyer said the court had served notice on 14 of Veena's relatives and villagers who had threatened them with "dire consequences". Haryana has been the centre of widespread protests by villagers who believe their village councils, or khaps should be allowed to impose their own punishments on those who disobey their rulings or break local traditions mainly honour killings of those who marry within their own gotra or sub-caste, regarded in the state as akin to incest. Deputy Commissioner of Police Dr. Abhe Singh told The Daily Telegraph: "The couple has been shifted to a safe house and we have provided adequate security to them on the court orders. The security is provided on the basis of threat perception and in this case the couple feared that their families might be against the relationship."

Recognition of same-sex unions in India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

India does not currently recognize same-sex unions of any type. No explicit prohibition against same-sex unions currently exists, but LGBT rights have been slow to develop in the country.

[edit] Overview
Since 1987, when the national press carried the story of two policewomen who married each other by Hindu rites in central India,[1] the press has reported many same-sex marriages, all over the country, mostly between lower middle class young women in small towns and rural areas, who have no contact with any gay movement. Family reactions range from support to disapproval to violent persecution. While police generally harass such couples, Indian courts have uniformly upheld their right, as adults, to live with whomever they wish. In recent years, some of these couples have appeared on television as well. There have also been numerous joint suicides by same-sex couples, mostly female (male-female couples also resort to suicide or to elopement and religious marriage when their families oppose their unions). In "Same-Sex Love

in India : Readings from Literature and History", author Ruth Vanita analyses dozens of such marriages and suicides that have taken place over the last three decades, and explores their legal, religious, and historical aspects. She argues that many of the marriages can arguably be considered legally valid, as under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, any marriage between two Hindus performed according to the customs prevalent in the community of one of the two partners is legally valid. No license is required to marry, and most heterosexual Hindu marriages in India today are performed by religious rites alone, without a marriage license and are never registered with the state. State recognition is not sought by most couples because it confers few benefits. Most couples seek the validation of family and community, and several female couples in rural areas and small towns have received this validation.[2] There have also been a couple of high profile celebrity same-sex marriages, such as the civil union of designer Wendell Rodricks with his French partner Jerome Marrel, conducted under French law in Goa, India. LGBT rights organisations have demanded the right to same-sex marriage, and, inspired both by news from the West, have discussed the i

The Bible and homosexuality

There are a number of direct references to homosexual activity in the Bible.[1] These almost exclusively concern male homosexuality. In the Hebrew Bible (more specifically, in Mosaic law), male homosexuality is identified as an "abomination". In the New Testament, Paul of Tarsus condemns arsenokoits, which term is related to male homosexuality, but open to some interpretation, as either any male homosexual acts, or more specifically male homosexual prostitution. Paul also makes a possible allusion to female homosexuality when he refers to "unnatural relations" between women in the Epistle to the Romans.

[edit] Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

[edit] Leviticus 18 and 20

Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus, which form part of the Holiness code, contain the following verses:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.[2](Leviticus 18:22 KJV)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.[3](Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

The two verses have traditionally been interpreted by fundamentalist Christians as blanket prohibitions against homosexual acts.[citation needed] Traditional Jewish sources view these verses as prohibitions against anal sex between males only and have a different approach to female sexual activity. [4]

[edit] Possible references

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis has traditionally been interpreted within Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality; Judaism regards it as a story about the need for hospitality.[citation needed] Most translations point much more strongly to this being an injunction not against homosexuality, nor even against paedophilia, but rather against rape (the (obviously wise) elders offered up their girls to be assaulted in place of the boys, but the punishment came not until the Sodomites refused to take no for an answer - refusing to take no for an answer is clearly sinful, whereas all other details are moot and only linked to gender through interpretations that use ambiguity to spread doubt and confusion, leading us towards hatred instead of love and acceptance of other people's taste). The Hebrew Bible uses the word kedeshah for prostitute. The meaning of the male form kadesh or qadesh is not entirely clear.[5] Some translations imply a male cultic attendant, apparently with some sexual implication. The account of the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Books of Samuel, depicted by traditional and mainstream religious interpretation as a relationship of platonic love, has been interpreted by some secular writers as being of a sexual nature.[6][7]

[edit] Passages from the New Testament

Main article: Homosexuality in the New Testament

[edit] Romans 1
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(26) Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (27) In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their


However, it says in verse 27, "In the same way...", which is a comparative phrase, meaning that the women in verse 26 practiced unnatural relations in the same way that the men in verse 27 did, through homosexuality. This passage is also debated, both in terms of its relevance today and in terms of its actual prohibition.[8] Most Christian denominations maintain that this verse is a complete prohibition of all forms of homosexuality.[9][10][11][12][13] However, some contend the passage is not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality at all,[14][15][16] and some argue that Paul's writings must be considered fallible because of his support for slavery and the oppression of women.[17][18][19][20][21]

[edit] Other Epistles

In the context of the broader immorality of his audience, Paul of Tarsus wrote in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,
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Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, arsenokoits, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers, none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The word arsenokoits () has challenged scholars for centuries, and has been variously rendered as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "sodomites" (YLT), or "men who practice homosexuality." Greek / [arrhn / arsn means "male", and [koitn] "bed," with a sexual connotation": there is no evident reason for Paul to choose this word to signify homosexuality, as Greek has the word androkoits for this meaning. It is likely that arsenokoits is taken from the Septuagint (LXX) reading of Leviticus 20:13 where the root forms (Greek / [arrhn / arsn] and [koitn] both appear. Paul's use of the word in 1 Corinthians is the earliest example of the term; its only other use is in a similar list of wrongdoers given (probably by the same author) in 1 Timothy 1:910:
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Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, arsenokoits, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,

which he entrusted to me. (1 Timothy 1:810)

In AD 35, the philosopher Philo wrote that arsenokoits referred to "temple prostitution."[citation needed] Later Christian literature used the word to mean variously prostitution, incest or rape without any single clear meaning Patriarch John IV of Constantinople, in a passage dealing with coercive and non-procreative sex, speaks of "...many men [who] commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives".[22] Other scholars have interpreted malakoi and arsenokoits as referring to weakness and effeminacy, or to the practice of exploitative pederasty.[23][

Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism

In Roman Catholicism, homosexual acts are considered contrary to natural law and sinful, while homosexual desires are considered "disordered" but not themselves sinful. The Catholic Church considers human sexual behavior to be sacred, when properly expressed. The Church considers homosexual behavior to be sinful[1][2] because sexual acts, by their nature, are divinely intended to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life).[3] The Church also believes the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan.[4] The Church holds same-gender sexual activities to be incompatible with this framework: [H]omosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.[2] These teachings are not limited to the issue of homosexuality, but form the philosophical underpinning for the Catholic teachings against, for example, fornication, all other forms of sodomy (such as anal sex), as well as contraception, pornography, and masturbation.[citation needed] Many Catholics oppose the official teachings of the Church on homosexuality, and in some locations, such as the United States, show stronger support for gay rights than the general population.[5]

[edit] Compassion for those with "disordered" attractions

The Church has stated that homosexual desires or attractions themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that is sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose attempts to legitimize samegender sexual acts, it also urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions; thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against persons with same-sex attractions:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.[6] The church has also issued a statement that "urges States to do away with criminal penalties against [homosexual persons],"[7] calling it "grave violations of human rights." It opposes all forms of violence against homosexual people and believes it should be confronted at all levels, but especially at the state level.[8] For those who do experience same-sex attractions and identify themselves with a homosexual orientation, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel: Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.[9]

[edit] Chastity-promoting ministries

Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York City saw a need for a ministry which would assist Catholics with a same-sex attraction to adhere to Catholic teaching on sexual behaviour. Cooke invited John Harvey to New York to begin the work of Courage International with Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The first meeting was held in September 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry. The Catholic Medical Association has stated that same-sex attractions are preventable and a symptom of other issues. The goal of therapy should be "freedom to live chastely according to one's state in life."[10]

[edit] Dissent from official Church position


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There is considerable debate within the Roman Catholic Church regarding the Church's teaching on homosexuality; while some dissent from it or seek to change it,[11][12] others regard it as definitive, infallible, and unchangeable as a magisterial dogma of the Church.[13][14][15][16] In an official brief called Rescriptum ex audientia of May 19, 2008 made by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone the Cardinal Secretary of State reaffirmed the norms established by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the 2005 document entitled "Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders," as being of universal value and without exceptions.[17] Notable examples of theologians who have been sharply critical of the Church's proclamations regarding homosexuality include Professor Charles Curran, who was subsequently removed from the faculty at the Catholic University of America.[18] Curran contended in 1971 that homosexual acts, in the context of a committed relationship, fell short of the ideal but were to be considered good for homosexual people; he stated that "I had come to accept the moral legitimacy of a union of two gay men or lesbians." However, he has since recognized shortcomings in this argument,[19]:73 and in 1992, though without explicitly stating a change of position, he said that "the official hierarchical Roman Catholic teaching should accept the moral value and goodness" of same-sex relationships, not excepting those that include sex.[20] Curran has stated that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith systematically attempted to silence authors critical of teachings on homosexuality, citing the "highlighting" of errors in Dr. John J. McNeill's The Church and the Homosexual.[19]:113[21] Roman Catholic priest Dr. James Alison argues that the understanding proposed by (then) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons is "incompatible with the Gospel" and summarizes that "it cannot in fact be the teaching of the Church."[22] Furthermore, in a Question of Truth, the Dominican priest Gareth Moore concludes that: "... there are no good arguments, from either Scripture or natural law, against what have come to be known as homosexual relationships. The arguments put forward to show that such relationships are immoral are bad."[23] In addition to academic disagreement within the Church, there have also been practical and ministerial disagreements within the clergy and hierarchy of the Church. Two notable examples of ordained Catholics who have attracted controversy because of their actions and ministry to homosexuals are Fr. Robert Nugent and Dr. Jeannine Grammick, who established New Ways

Ministry, and were both disciplined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith because of their dissent from magisterial Church teaching regarding this issue.[24] Similarly, the American Bishops Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Matthew Clark of Rochester, New York were criticized for their association with New Ways Ministry, and their distortion of the theological concept of the Primacy of Conscience as an alternative to the actual teaching of the Church.[25] Furthermore, the insistence of Bishop Jacques Gaillot to preach a message about homosexuality contrary to that of the official stance of the Church is largely considered to be one of the factors that led to him being removed from his See.[26] Over 260 catholic theologians, particularly from Germany, Switzerland and Austria signed in January/February 2011 a memorandum Church 2011. They want more theolgian respect for gay couples, who live in civil unions [27] A 2011 report based on telephone surveys of American Catholics conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 43% support same-sex marriage, 31% support civil unions, and 22% oppose any legal recognition of a same-sex relationship. 56% believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex are not sinful. 73% favor antidiscrimination laws, 63% support the right of gay people to serve openly in the military, and 60% favor allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. Catholic support of gay rights is thus higher than that of other Christian groups and of the general population.[5][28]

[edit] Defense of official Church position

Some bishops have obtained a reputation for an impassioned defence of Church teaching regarding homosexuality. Notable examples include George Cardinal Pell and Francis Cardinal Arinze, who have insisted that the family as a unit is "mocked by homosexuality" and "sabotaged by irregular unions".[29] After Pope Benedict XVI was elected pope, the Congregation for Catholic Education issued an "instruction" prohibiting any individuals who "present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture'", or any individuals having had such "tendencies" within the past three years, from entry to seminary, and from joining the priesthood.[30]

Homosexuality and Methodism

Methodist denominations and individuals hold various views on homosexuality. British Methodism continues this theme whereas American Methodist denominations of Christianity concentrate on the belief that the practice of homosexuality to be incompatible with Christian teaching, albeit they do minister to homosexual persons, holding that all individuals are of sacred worth.[1][2][3]

[show]Related groups
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[edit] African Methodist Episcopal Church

The African Methodist Episcopal Church rejects the ordination of openly gay persons to the ranks of the clergy in the Church.[4] In an historic decision, which marked the first vote on the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples by a predominantly African-American denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church unanimously voted to forbid ministers from blessing blessing same-sex unions in July 2004.[4][5] The decision was based on the fact that homosexual activity "clearly contradicts our understanding of Scripture."[4]

[edit] Evangelical Methodist Church

The Evangelical Methodist Church recognizes that the biblical record condemns homosexuality as evidenced in Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-19.[6] It teaches that homosexual practices are "sin leading to spiritual death and eternal punishment.[6] Nevertheless, homosexuality is no greater a sin than adultery, murder, stealing, among others.[6] As a result, practicing homosexuals are barred from becoming members of the Evangelical Methodist Church. Moreover, practicing homosexuals are prohibited from becoming candidates for ordained ministry.[6] The Church upholds that all individuals are entitled to certain rights and protection of the civil law; nevertheless, it opposes all civil legislation that supports homosexuality as a normal life style.[6] All homosexuals who seek faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and cease to practice homosexual acts are welcomed into the fellowship of the Evangelical Methodist Church.[6]

[edit] Free Methodist Church

As stated in the Book of Discipline (A/342) of the Free Methodist Church, it believes and teaches that The template Cquote is being considered for deletion.

Homosexual behavior, as all sexual deviation, is a perversion of God's created order (Genesis 1-3). The sanctity of marriage and the family is to be preserved against all manner of immoral conduct (Exodus 22:16-17; Deuteronomy 22:23-28; Leviticus 20:10-16), thus the Free Methodist Church does not recognize the legitimacy or participation in the practice of same-sex marriage.

Homosexual behavior is contrary to the will of God as clearly stated in Scripture (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-10).

Persons with homosexual inclinations are accountable to God for their behavior (Romans 14:12). The forgiving and delivering grace of God in Christ is all-sufficient for the homosexual (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 7:25; Luke 4:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The Church has a personal and corporate responsibility to be God's instrument of healing, restoring love to the homosexual seeking recovery of Christian conduct and life-style (2 Corinthians 2:7-8). The church opposes legislation which makes homosexual conduct or life-style legitimate.[2]

[edit] Methodist Church of Great Britain

At the annual Methodist Conference in 1993 in Derby, following long debate at all levels of the Church's life on the basis of a detailed report, the Methodist Church considered the issues of human sexuality.[7] The Derby Conference in 1993 passed a series of Resolutions which still stand. These resolutions are as follows: The template Cquote is being considered for deletion.

1. The Conference, affirming the joy of human sexuality as God's gift and the place of every human being within the grace of God, recognises the responsibility that flows from this for us all. It therefore welcomes the serious, prayerful and sometimes costly consideration given to this issue by The Methodist Church. 2. All practices of sexuality, which are promiscuous, exploitative or demeaning in any way are unacceptable forms of behaviour and contradict God's purpose for us all. 3. A person shall not be debarred from church on the grounds of sexual orientation in itself. 4. The Conference reaffirms the traditional teaching of the Church on human sexuality; namely chastity for all outside marriage and fidelity within it. The Conference directs that this affirmation is made clear to all candidates for ministry, office and membership, and having established this, affirm that the existing procedures of our church are adequate to deal with all such cases. 5. The Conference resolves that its decision in this debate shall not be used to form the basis of a disciplinary charge against any person in relation to conduct alleged to have taken place before such decisions were made. 6. Conference recognises, affirms and celebrates the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the church. Conference calls on the Methodist people to begin a pilgrimage of faith to combat repression and discrimination, to work for justice and human rights and to give dignity and worth to people whatever their sexuality.[7]

In 2006, the Church prohibited the blessing of same-sex unions on or off church property; clergy can offer only "pastoral prayers" for same sex couples.[3] This decision was made after "culmination of two years of denomination-wide reflection."[3]

[edit] Primitive Methodist Church

The Primitive Methodist Church teaches that the practice of homosexuality is positively forbidden by Scripture, specifically in Romans 1:26-27 and Leviticus 18:22; 20:13.[8] In regards to marriage, the Primitive Methodist Church believes it to involve the total commitment of one man and one woman.[8]

[edit] United Methodist Church

As stated in the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church holds that "homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth."[1] In other words, all individuals are of worth to God. Nevertheless, in keeping with historic Church teaching,[9][10] it considers the "practice of homosexuality [to be] incompatible with Christian teaching," For this reason, the "United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality"[1] or allow "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" to be "certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."[11] Based on its teaching, the United Methodist Church prohibits the blessing of homosexual unions by its clergy and in its churches.[11] The breaking of this law is a chargeable offense and rebellious clergy are subject to being defrocked,[12] as was the case in 1987, when Methodist minister Rose Mary Denman, was defrocked for being openly gay.[13] Similarly, in 2005, clergy credentials were removed from Irene Elizabeth Stroud after she was convicted in a church trial of violating Church law by engaging in a lesbian relationship; this conviction was later upheld by the Church Judicial Council, the highest court in the denomination.[14] The United Methodist Church in addition supports "laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman."[15] On April 30, 2008, at the most recent General Conference, delegates adopted even more conservative language, stating that Christians are called to "responsible stewardship of this sacred gift" of sexuality and that "sexual relations are affirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage."[16] As a result of decisions made in April 2008 and August 2009,[17] the United Methodist Church entered into full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[18] The latter denomination allows individuals in committed homosexual relationships to serve as ministers,[19] while the United Methodist Church requires gay clergy to remain celibate.[20] Despite the fact that full communion allows for the interchangeability of all ordained ministers between the two denominations,[21] Lutheran clergy who are involved in homosexual activity are prohibited to serve in the United Methodist Church in order to uphold the integrity of United Methodist ministerial standards.[20] Several grassroots organizations not officially recognized by the United Methodist Church have also formed around positions on issues relating to homosexuality. The Confessing Movement within the United Methodist Church seeks to continue to protect the United Methodist Church's current stance on homosexuality, if not make it more rigid. Moreover, another movement, Transforming Congregations, is a Methodist ex-gay ministry whose purpose is to "equip the

local church to model and minister sanctified sexuality through biblical instruction, personal and public witness, and compassionate outreach.[22] Meanwhile, the Reconciling Ministries Network seeks to change the United Methodist Church's current teaching on homosexuality in order to make the church more inclusive of LGBT people.[23] At the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, it was decided that the Church would retain its views on homosexuality.[24]

Homosexuality and Baptist churches

Describing the Baptist view on homosexuality is difficult due to the multitude of Baptist organizations, each with a slightly different doctrinal statement. The issue is further compounded by the large number of autonomous Independent Baptist churches which are not part of an organization and have their own doctrinal statements and beliefs. This article will attempt to cover basic beliefs on both sides of the issue.

[edit] Basic beliefs

As with most issues, there is a diversity of views of members of Baptist churches on homosexuality. However, the majority of established Baptist churches themselves generally condemn homosexual behavior. Those Baptists who hold that homosexuality is sinful also teach that homosexual sin can be forgiven through Christ if repentance is shown. Nevertheless, Baptists generally believe that homosexuality must be an issue that is approached with compassion and love. Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, emphasizes that: "Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion. But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey. Those seeking to contort and subvert the Bibles message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion. To lie is never compassionate and their lie leads unto death." [1] A relatively small, albeit growing, number of Baptists and congregations are open to the acceptance of homosexual relationships.[2][3] Al Sharpton, a Baptist minister and Civil rights leader, during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 said that asking whether gays or lesbians should be able to get

married was insulting: "That's like saying you give blacks, or whites, or Latinos the right to shack up but not get married [...] It's like asking 'do I support black marriage or white marriage'. . . . The inference of the question is that gays are not like other human beings".[4]

[edit] Positions of churches

Several organizations and denominations of Baptist churches have issued statements and resolutions about homosexuality. Some of those are listed here:

[edit] Conservative position

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist denomination globally with around 13 million members (mainly in the United States), has issued several resolutions in which it rejects homosexuality as a lifestyle and refers to it as a "manifestation of a depraved nature", "a perversion of divine standards and as a violation of nature and natural affections" and "an abomination in the eyes of God."[5] It opposes same-sex marriages and equivalent unions.[6] The Convention has urged churches not to show any approval of homosexuality.[7] The Convention however also holds that "while the Bible condemns such practice as sin, it also teaches forgiveness and transformation, upon repentance, through Jesus Christ our Lord."[8] Within the American Baptist Churches USA, a mainline American Baptist denomination of around 1.4 million members, there has been a variety of understandings on homosexuality. The convention holds "that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." It also opposes same sex marriage. It advocates dialogue on the issue. Some individual congregations, however, hold contrary views.[9]

[edit] Neutral position

The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the second largest Baptist church globally and predominantly African-American, holds no official view on homosexuality, leaving this issue to individual congregations. They state however that a majority of their member churches would hold that homosexuality is not a legitimate expression of God's will and would be opposed to ordaining active homosexuals or lesbians for any type of ministry in their church.[10][dead link] The Baptist Union of Great Britain with 140,000 individuals holds a nuanced view. It says that same sex couples "should not suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation", while affirming that Christians who believe that same sex relationships are wrong should not be forced to compromise on what they believe as a tenet of their faith.[11] The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a relatively small American-based network of Baptist churches, does not have an official policy on homosexuality (or other social issues). However it does not allow the expenditure of funds of the organization on the advocacy of homosexuality or the hiring of staff members who are active homosexuals.[12]

[edit] Progressive position

The Network of Baptists affirming Lesbian & Gay Christians is a small UK network of Baptists who seek to support lesbians and gay men and people concerned about their sexuality in the church. The Alliance of Baptists is a small theologically progressive, American Baptist denomination which supports same-sex marriage and is open to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender believers.[13] The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists is made up of Baptist churches, organizations, and individuals who welcome and affirm people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion within Baptist faith communities.[2] This group is made up of around 50 churches and organizations among the American Baptist Churches in the USA and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship


Presbyterianism and homosexuality

[edit] Denominations for homosexual relationships
[edit] Church of Scotland
The "mother church" for Presbyterians worldwide, the Church of Scotland has debated the issue of homosexuality. In 1994, the General Assembly received for consideration two reports, one from the Board of Social Responsibility on human sexuality ("placing questions of sexuality for people with...disabilities, elderly people, and homosexuality in the contexts of human sciences and Scripture"), and one from the Panel on Doctrine on marriage (concluding, "among other things, that cohabiting couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual, may well display all the marks of loving, faithful and committed partnership, and should not be thought sinful"). The Panel's Working Party was unanimous, but the larger Panel was not and had dissenting members, as did the Board's report. Neither became official church doctrine. The legalization of samegender Civil Partnerships in Scotland in 2005 brought the issue to a head again, this time over the question of whether Church of Scotland ministers are allowed to conduct (and also have the right to decline to perform) union ceremonies between two persons of the same gender.[1] The Assembly narrowly passed legislation to permit civil blessings. In 2011, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland voted to allow openly homosexual ministers, provided those ministers were inducted into the Church of Scotland before May 2009. There is a continuing moratorium on openly gay ministers being newly inducted into the Kirk until May 2013.

[edit] Presbyterian Church (USA)

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest U.S. Presbyterian body, is also divided over the issue of homosexuality. Although gay and lesbian persons are welcome to become members of the church, the denomination's constitution, The Book of Order states that:

Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and / or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament (G-6.0106b).

This paragraph, often referred to by its pre-ratification designation "Amendment B", was ratified by a majority of presbyteries in 1997 and was in large part inspired by definitive guidance documents issued by the PC(USA)'s predecessor denominations, the UPCUSA in 1978 and the PCUS in 1980. Different attempts to remove or soften this language have been unsuccessful. Individual ministers are permitted to bless same-sex unions, but the Church does not permit same-sex marriages, and does not explicitly support the consummation of these unions.[2] In 2001, the General Assembly ordered the formation of a Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church. The members were chosen to reflect the diversity of opinion within the church. Its final report was approved by the 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham. The task force made seven recommendations:
1. The General Assembly should strongly encourage all members "to witness to the church's visible oneness, to avoid division into separate denominations, and to live in harmony with [fellow] members; and for congregations, Sessions, presbyteries and synods to strengthen their relationships with each other. 2. The church should seek to engage in "intensive discernment" in the face of difficult issues using techniques used by the Task Force itself. 3. The General Assembly should commend for study the Theological Reflection of the report. 4. The church should consider alternative forms of decisionmaking than the usual Robert's Rules of Order with highly divisive issues. 5. The General Assembly should issue an Authoritative Interpretation (AI) that upholds the Book of Confessions and Book of Order as the constitutional standards for ordination and installation, while noting that ordaining bodies (Sessions for elders and deacons, Presbyteries for Ministers of Word and Sacrament) have the responsibility to apply these standards to candidates and include in its determinations: o "Whether the candidate...has departed from scriptural and constitutional standards for fitness for office," o "Whether any departure constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of the Reformed faith and polity under...The Book of Order," and o "Whether the examination and...decision comply with the Constitution of the PC(USA), and whether the ordaining/installing body has conducted its examination reasonably, responsibly, prayerfully, and deliberately in deciding to ordain a candidate for church office...subject to review by higher governing bodies 6. Should the AI pass, that the GA not approve in 2006 any other AIs or constitutional amendments relating to the issues included in the Task Force's report, and that all church members should "acknowledge their traditional biblical obligation...to conciliate, mediate, and adjust differences without strife." 7. Related to number 6 above, that the Task Force Report should be considered as answering the questions raised by several overtures to the General Assembly that year.[3]

The Task Force Report and the AI passed the General Assembly on June 20, 2006.[4] In November 1994, an individual PC(USA) church and Presbyterian Renewal Ministries sponsored a conference called "The Path to Freedom: Exploring healing for the Homosexual." This conference focused on both how to minister to those struggling with homosexuality and to teach those in the church how to support them. A few months latter, OneByOne was organized. OneByOne is an ex-gay organization whose aim is to educate the Church and minister to members in regards to sexual brokenness, of which they include homosexuality.[5] Other groups advocate the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life and work of the church, including More Light Presbyterians, dating to 1974, and the Covenant Network of Presbyterians (formed in the aftermath of the ratification of Amendment B). All three of these groups are considered advocacy groups, separate from the PC(USA) and do not speak on behalf of the denomination.[6] At the General Assembly of 2004 an overture to consider adoption of the Belhar Confession was approved. That confession was written by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in response to apartheid. Some controversy exists as to whether its principles in the American context relate to the issue of sexual orientation. The 2008 General Assembly was to consider adoption[7] but because the report to the assembly was incomplete in 2008 a new report on adoption is expected in 2010.[8] The 2008 General Assembly, taking under serious consideration the report of the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church Task Force,[9] decided to remove many (if not all) of the definitive guidance standards, authoritative interpretations, and church-court cases concerning homosexuality that were seen by full-inclusion advocates as stumbling blocks to homosexual ordination. The Assembly also took steps to removing "Amendment B" (G6.0106b) from the constitution by sending to the presbyteries a vote to alter amendment B and replace it with wording that does not implicitly or explicitly bar homosexuals from ordination.[10] Further changes to the governance of the denomination came in the adoption of a separate authoritative interpretation which allowed for homosexual individuals to "scruple" or challenge the restrictions of homosexual ordination before governing bodies of the church and be allowed ordination at which point the governing body may accept or refuse the challenge.[11] The process for correcting the Heidelberg Catechism, which is part of the constitution of the denomination, was also begun. The correction will remove the improper 1962 "translation" of the original document which illicitly added homosexuality to its list of sins. The 2010 General Assembly will have to receive and approve a report for the change and send to the presbyteries to receive a two-thirds approval for change in 2012.[12] On July 8, 2010, by a vote of 373 to 323, the General Assembly voted to approve the so-called Amendment 10-A to permit the ordination of partnered homosexuals. The measure required ratification by a majority vote among the 173 Presbyteries before taking effect.[13] On May 10, 2011, a majority of Presbyteries ratified Amendment 10-A. The deciding vote was cast by the Presbytery of Twin Cities; 19 presbyteries that voted against a previous such amendment changed sides.[14] The new policy, which overrides a policy reserving clergy status to people "living in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness," took effect on July 10, 2011.[15][16]

[edit] United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada, formed in 1925 with 70% of Canadian Presbyterians along with Congregationalists and Methodists, welcomes LGBT members into active membership and does not bar LGBT candidates to the ministry. It allows same-gender marriage ceremonies to be performed by its ministers and opposes repeal of the Civil Marriage Act that allows persons of the same gender to be married.[17]

[edit] Others
Many Presbyterians in New Zealand are active in the Association for Reconciling Christians and Congregations,[18] an ecumenical group that supports the full inclusion and participation of all people in the Church, including gay and lesbian persons. In America, More Light Presbyterians, a coalition of gay-inclusive congregations, was founded in 1980. Today the organization has 113 member churches, while many more informally endorse its mission to more fully welcome people of all sexualities into the life of the church.

[edit] Denominations against homosexual activity

One By One booth at a Love Won Out conference

Other American Presbyterian bodies, such as the Presbyterian Church in America,[19] the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church,[20] and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church [21] condemn same-sex sexual behavior as incompatible with Biblical morality, with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church also viewing homosexual orientation as itself sinful.[22] The Presbyterian Church in Canada has a conservative view on the subject. A 2002 report summarized its position by noting that the church "opposes any attitude of hatred or discrimination directed at homosexual people, the Church believes its task is to lead all people to the grace and mercy of Jesus Chist, the Church has accepted the biblical norm of male and female, and the Church has called for chastity...outside the bond of marriage." It notes that "there are lesbian and gay people holding positions of responsibility in the [PCC], people of homosexual orientation are able to have all the privileges of church membership, and [that the

PCC] still needs to examine the issues around ordination."[23] The PCC does not approve of same-sex marriages and has stated its position to the Canadian government.[24] In New Zealand the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand has debated homosexuality for many years. In 1985 its General Assembly declared "Homosexual acts are sinful." The most recent decision of the Assembly in 2004 declared "this church may not accept ...anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage between a man and a woman," but added the lemma, "In relation to homosexuality... this ruling shall not prejudice anyone, who as at the date of this meeting, has been accepted for training, licensed ordained of inducted." In Brazil, the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil) is against gay practice. Given recent laws, the Presbyterian Church of Brazil published an article stating its position against these themes, leaving clear its opposition to both abortion (except those performed to save the life of the pregnant) and homosexuality.[25] OneByOne is a Presbyterian ex-gay organization whose mission is both to minister to the "sexually broken" and serve as a source to those trying to support them, with an emphasis on homosexuality. The idea for OneByOne started as a result of a conference held in November 1994 by a PC(USA) church and the Presbyterian Renewal Ministries entitled "The Path to Freedom: Exploring healing for the Homosexual." In January 1995 the Presbyterian Renewal Network held a meeting to discuss what could be done, at which time they created OneByOne.[26] In July 2003, it joined with 10 other organization that serve people conflicted over unwanted homosexual attractions[27] to form a coalition called Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality.[28] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_Presbyterianism