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    On dealing with homosexuality

    by Sunny on 3rd January, 2006 at 10:42 am    

    I was in West Hollywood recently with my cousins trying to find a bar before we went into a club, and it dawned upon us that all of the bars on that strip were gay bars. I shrugged and was about to go in before being vetoed by my brother-in-law and his mate. I eventually persuaded them into entering a posher (but still gay) bar though the resistance was still there.

    After the night was over, my cousin sister and I confronted them over their attitude and find out the exact reason for their resistance. They said they weren’t against homosexuality per se but were uncomfortable with idea of legitimising it because it presented a threat to the idea of a traditional family.

    Rubbish, when you really think about it, and I won’t go into that this time, but there is a general point to be made here about modern attitudes to homosexuality.

    In America, where I’m currently holidaying, the same controversy have been brewing over the release of the film Brokeback Mountain. Conservatives have been screaming murder over Hollywood’s apparent attempt to legitimise homosexual relationships.

    In the UK, a mini-storm has been brewing over an article published in the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (Galha) magazine that Islam is a basically homophobic doctrine.

    Although attitudes to homosexuals are still appalling in the UK, more so in Asian communities (who place much more emphasis on religion and marriage structures), it is worth pointing out that the Old Testament and New Testament aren’t nice to homosexuals either, providing added impetus to conservative Christians in the US of A.

    My thoughts on this issue and most issues are straightforward. People should be allowed to do what they want in their own privacy providing they don’t harm anyone.

    It’s that ideology, taken to its logical conclusion, that has currently made the west much more tolerant to opposing ideas, lifestyles and religious practice than countries in other parts of the world (though this was not always the case in the past).

    So if I am to tolerate a Muslim’s right to practice their religion, even in a way that others may find offensive, I should rightfully be tolerant towards homosexual lifestyles. It is the same principle.

    The problem is that some in the British liberal left increasingly seem to be overlooking this principle in their hurry to defend racial and religious minorities.

    Please don’t - it is annoying and farcical.

    Coming back to the Galha magazine controversy. The Galha lot have a right to be annoyed at the homophobic rantings of the Muslim world (since the Christian world has somewhat distanced itself from the embarassing scriptural lines).

    But they seem to be making out a mountain out of a molehill. The last person who went on a rampage against gays was a white, racist Nazi. Muslims get much more mud slinged at them in the press than homosexuals do. Even the BNP largely ignores them now. Of more concern was why a racist rant against immigrants was allowed to be published. What happened to those principles of tolerance?

    My point is this. Being against opression and injustice regarding anyone isn’t just about defending our own culture or values.

    That is a false sense of superiority couched in nice word just to give a warm fuzzy feeling. We have to follow it through and apply it to everyone. That may mean forcing yourself to walk into a gay bar and ordering a drink.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Culture,Religion,The World

    74 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Pickled Politics » Well whaddya know?

      [...] Surprise! In an update to Sunny’s thread, the MCB are back in the news. They’ve decided that homosexuality is okay and that we should all just get along. They’ve said that holocaust memorial day is an important day to remember an horrific genocide. [...]

    1. j0nz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 11:23 am  

      The problem is that some in the British liberal left increasingly seem to be overlooking this principle in their hurry to defend racial and religious minorities.

      You can take this and replace homosexuality with virtually in subject in which the British left are happy to subjugate free speech

    2. Robert — on 3rd January, 2006 at 11:29 am  

      I was at a wedding in a Sikh Gudwara six months ago, where the chap leading the service gave a short power-point presentation on the meaning of the ceremony, for those of us who had never been to one before (the ubiquitous paper clip made an appearance: “It looks like you’re conducting a Sikh Marriage Ceremony - would you like some help with that?”)

      He made the point that family and procreation was very much the point of a Sikh marriage, and therefore homosexual ‘marriage’ was an anathema to this ideal. An acceptable belief I suppose, but one that can and will preclude gay people, and people with gay friends, from taking further interest in Sikhism.

      Similarly with other religions - the fundamentalist interpretation has them as exclusive, anti-gay clubs. Yet another reason to ignore the fundamentalists, and engage with the moderates… who are in turn engaging with homosexuals.

    3. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 12:45 pm  

      Good points Sunny. Lets face it, in Europe it is the Scandinavian countries that have always led the way in Gay Rights. Whilst The UK has always more tight-arsed (pardon the pun!) about gay rights in general and have only very recently (perhaps the last 20 years) have just about turned the corner. In spite of Oscar Wilde, the Carry on films, Joe Orton and a legacy of gays in the public conciousness.

      Sometimes I think that hypocricy has now been displaced to bash religious groups and is simply a way to sling more mud at religion as a whole. And of course there is the demonification of Islam by using Yusuf Qaradawi’s malformed edicts to malign Islam as a whole, as people are wont to do these days.

      In my experience, Muslim societies are quite lax with gay culture (but always a sub culture) and there has always been an homosexual undercurrent in traditional societies which, if not exactly tolerated, was turned a blind eye to. In fact there has traditionally been less hypocricy, gay bashing in Eastern societies than in Britain. When I first arrived in Britain in my teens, I was shocked to find in my school a culture rife in anxiety-ridden homophobia, boys being expelled from school for a bit of fondling, and surly remarks from the teachers.

    4. Col. Mustafa — on 3rd January, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

      I know many that say they don’t have a problem with homosexuals whatsoever but why do they have to be so camp.
      Just be normal and don’t act all camp and stuff.

      I was kinda like that once upon a time, but i realised its not really fair for me to dictate how anyone should act.
      If they wanna be camp, then theres nothing wrong with it as theyv’e chosen to be like that.
      I might find it slightly irritating after a while but then i can repeatedly shove my head into the table.

      Not all men are like that though, i say men as men are more prejudice towards homosexuality than women.

      I tried explaining to a few asians in particular that when they get singled out for the colour of their skin, the feelings you feel are the same as when a gay person is put on the spot.
      Its prejudice, you don’t know me but your judging me.

      Alot of men to this day whether asian or not don’t see homosexual men as men, and in some cases don’t see them as human beings.
      Its so wierd how lesbians are fine, because theres attraction there.
      So if your not attracted to men, does that mean you can’t be friends with them?
      Or is it the fact that they might be attracted to you that puts men off?

    5. Col. Mustafa — on 3rd January, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

      The whole family values thing is just another way of not accepting homosexuality.
      By saying that your already implying theres something wrong with being gay.
      Its not normal son, you won’t have a nice wedding or a wife and kids and a lovely family or go out to the zoo and stuff.
      It just won’t happen son; YOU HEAR ME BOYYY.

      Instead you’ll get stared at everywhere you go as soon as you want to hold hands, you cant have children, you have to adopt, people will secretly hate you and want to kill you becuase of your lifestyle also.

      So its still a very backward view, and it just pushes the gay issue out the door, it doesn’t acknowledge that their are gays and how to deal with loved ones or friends in that situation.
      Its more of a im not gay so i don’t care.
      Im not a paki so i don’t care.

    6. leon — on 3rd January, 2006 at 3:39 pm  

      The notion about homosexuality being a threat to the “traditional” family unit is a joke when you consider the problems with overpopulation in the world.

      I also take issue with the notion about legitmising homosexuality; it is already legit! A relationship (sexual, romantic or both) between two consenting adults is entirely normal in my view…

    7. raz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

      “it dawned upon us that all of the bars on that strip were gay bars”

      Yeah, right :) More like Sunny went on one of his usual ‘cruises’ . C’mon this is a progressive blog, Sunny, you can come out here - no fatwa’s, we promise :)

    8. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

      The article in the Gay Humanist magazine overstepped the bounds. It is perfectly acceptable for Humanists to take strong exception to the doctrines of Islam - it is another for them to go off on a rant about ‘third worlders’ and all those bloody immigrants.

      It is not surprising though. I have had endless conversations with gay Asian friends, and read articles by Asian gays and lesbians, in which they state, unprompted, that racism is a big problem amongst the mainstream gay community.

      Something that it has to face up to.

    9. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:04 pm  


      Orthodox Sikhism, like all religions, is conservative in its judgment and perspective on sexuality.

      However, there are gay Sikh men and women just as there are gay Jewish men and women etc etc etc

      Gay Sikh men and women like gays of all religions have a tricky and thankless task to negotiate paths around their community.

      I know that one thing they dont like is having their faces slapped and told by mainstream gays that they should have to choose between their sexuality and their ethnic-cultural-religious identity, because it is demonised, mocked, generalised, without nuance, insight or sympathy, by mainstream gay’s who often sound just a whisker away from foaming at the mouth Daily Mail right wingers (as the Gay Humanist rant proved) - or, ironically, not that far from the religious conservatives whose strict adherence to their intolerant beliefs marginalises those gays.

      No Jewish gay is going to tolerate being told to choose between their community and their sexuality by ANYONE - and neither should Sikh, Muslim, or Hindu gays and lesbians be put in that position.

      There are a few Asian gay and lesbian organisations out there that deal with this all the time - misunderstanding, sterotyping and intolerance from both sides.

    10. raz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

      This is the article in question:


      “So, while middle-class people (well resourced, either financially or culturally, or both) generally thrive in a time of easier divorce, easy credit, permissiveness and the deregulated workplace, lower-middle- and working-class people (poorly resourced, either financially or culturally, or both) are more prone to familial chaos, uncontrollable debt, binge drinking, antisocial behaviour and debauched holidays in the sun”

      “Legal or illegal, many of these Third World and Eastern European newcomers are criminals of the worst kind, ”

      ” Even now, walking down the street in some parts of London – not just the obvious areas, but places like Queensway, Willesden and the Edgware Road – you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Kandahar. Redundant churches are sprouting onion domes and minarets. We are becoming strangers in our own land”

      “, most distressingly, young women have coarsened themselves with ‘ladette’ behaviour, with dire consequences for their health, their appearance and their decorum.”

      “more, in many respects, than some of the dissolute members of our tragically disinherited working class).”

      Funny how an article supposedly against bigotry reveals much more about the bigotry of the author himself, not just towards immigrants but even ‘indigenous’ members of our society. He doesn’t seem to have a good word about anyone really!

    11. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:12 pm  

      That truly is an article worthy of the BNP.

      And it proves my point - that there is a strain of racism embedded in the mainstream gay community in Britain.

      If you need explaining why that article uses legitimate issues as a stepping stone for racist screed you probably share the author’s views.

      What a shame that this Humanist magazine has dented its credibility by publishing it.

    12. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

      So how much longer before we can gay-iconize Sunny?

      Q: What do you call a gay Sikh man?
      A: Min Singh.

    13. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

      The issue facing those of us on the Left is the legitimate question of how to face down the attempt to spread the influence of extreme right-wing Islamist ideology in this society without resorting to the kind of rhetoric the Gay Humanist magazine descends to.

      This is the key ethical issue of the moment and how we handle it will decide everything.

      Shame the Gay Humanist blew it.

    14. El Cid — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

      lol at Sid’s joke

    15. Gaz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

      I dont see why one article should lead anyone to believe that there is a strain of racism in the mainstream gay community. This is the first gay article I have ever seen with bigotry in it.

    16. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:25 pm  


      If you talk to a gay Asian man or woman they’ll tell you lots of tales about racism in the gay community.

    17. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:26 pm  


      Groan @ the gay sardarji joke - but did you hear the one about the homo Mullah? ;-)

    18. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:27 pm  

      Points well made. The Gay Humanist has obviousley fallen victim to an over-depenedence on Harry’s Place for opinion formulation. And of course a reactionary over-compensation of Peter Tatchell’s (Professional Outer Number One) zealous tarring of “Islam as Homophobic Doctrine”. Something the poor man formulated because of an earnest desire to equate Qaradawi’s spoutings with mainstream Islam. For his next trick, Peter will out Yusuf Qaradawi in a blaze of humourless publicity.

    19. raz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

      Gaz, Tatchell and Outrage have been spouting similar stuff recently as well. If we’re going to hold Asians to account for their bigotry, we must be willing to ask the same questions of the gay community.

    20. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

      I disagree with you about Tatchell - he is pro Palestinian, anti- Iraq war and I dont agree with your representation of his motivation at all.

      Engaging with religious doctrine and human rights abuses is one thing (and as it happens I am with him on the Qaradawi affair) - descending into BNP rhetoric as the Gay Humanist article did is another thing altogether.

      I agree, it can be hard to see where the line is drawn sometimes, but there is no way that I believe Tatchell can be lumped with the author of the Gay Humanist article wrote.

    21. Gaz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:42 pm  

      I don’t know any Asian gay people to ask. I’m surprised and sadenned to hear they have experianced racism from the mainstream (white?) gay community.
      I wouldn’t have thought Peter Tatchel or Outrage represent the views of the mainstream gay community. All my gay friends consider them ‘nutters’ and their behaviour embarrases them.

    22. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

      I didn’t say Tatchell should be lumped with the Gay Humanist article. I said the Gay Humanist article writer mis-interpreted Tachell’s views that Islam is a homophobic doctrine. The difference is that Tachell says that about all religious doctrine. Whereas the Gay Humanist writer only picked up on the Islamic bits because they resonated with his own prejudices.

    23. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

      Point taken Siddhartha.

    24. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:47 pm  

      Although I was probably speaking more to raz than to you.

    25. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:48 pm  

      do you really believe that the white gay community is any more racist that the mainstream (white) community. Surely thats a subjective and ancedotal opinion?

    26. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:53 pm  


      No - absolutely not.

      I do not believe that the gay community is any more prejudiced than mainstream society.

      My point was that racism DOES EXIST inside it though, and that I have listened to conversations on this subject with gay Asian friends (my cousin who lives in London and is a veteran of the scene) and heard some grim testimony on it too. I have read articles on it in the Pink Paper, interviews with one of the women who leads an Asian Gay/Lesbian support group, and she said pretty much the same thing.

    27. Old Pickler — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:53 pm  

      Just be normal and don’t act all camp and stuff.

      One of the most “camp”guys I know is completely straight. Everyone assumes he’s gay, so he hams it up a bit so he can pull the birds by asking about moisturiser and stuff. It seems to work. He knows more about skincare than I do, and I’m female.

      I noticed when I went round Eastern Turkey (the conservative part) that men seemed to go arm in arm. They couldn’t all have been gay. It’s odd that a culture with a religion that is so anti-gay tolerates it unofficially.

    28. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

      Everyone assumes he’s gay, so he hams it up a bit so he can pull the birds by asking about moisturiser and stuff

      Ah, the old crafty ‘make them think I’m gay because it’s every straight woman’s fantasy to seduce a gay man’ trick.

      He didnt try it on you then?

    29. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

      I noticed when I went round Eastern Turkey (the conservative part) that men seemed to go arm in arm. They couldn’t all have been gay. It’s odd that a culture with a religion that is so anti-gay tolerates it unofficially.

      Well, Turkey tolerates topless beaches, nightclubs, beer, whisky, wine. Maybe its just because Turkey is a multi-faceted contradictory society in which liberal attitudes co-exist with conservative elements - just a complex messy stew. Not that confusing at all really.

    30. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

      Maybe its just because Turkey is a multi-faceted contradictory society in which liberal attitudes co-exist with conservative elements - just a complex messy stew.

      No thats nonsense. Eastern societies have different values placed on tactility and personal space. Two men can be walking hand in hand in India, Burma or Thailand and no one will bat an eyelid and they are most likely not gay at all. Thats not to say there isn’t plenty of gay lifestyles being led by men and women.

    31. Col. Mustafa — on 3rd January, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

      I hate those annoying uncles that never let go of your hand after they shake it.

      I saw quite a few men holding hands walking down the street but i remember my aunts and uncles taking the piss out of them too.

    32. Kiran — on 3rd January, 2006 at 5:22 pm  

      “What is the world coming at???”

      “GAYS and LESBIANS”

      “Oh My God - What a Disgrace!!!”

      Stop!!! people think they are humans too!!! they have feelings and if they are comfortable with being Homosexuals then who are we to question them!!!

      The above comments heard in public makes you wonder how ignorant people can be.

      Believe in Live and let Live!!!

    33. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 5:23 pm  

      Did you read the thread Kiran?

      I dont believe a single homophobic point has been made on this thread.

      Who are you directing your comments to?

    34. Siddharth — on 3rd January, 2006 at 5:31 pm  

      Kiran Tatchell?

    35. Rohin — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

      Just for the record - Peter Tatchell IS a nutter. That’s my opinion.

      Siddharth is absolutely right - men holding hands in Turkey or anywhere in Asia is 99% of the time nothing to with being gay, it’s just a different societal norm. We find it weird having grown up here, but it’s quite acceptable in other countries. It’s nothing to do with Turkey being progressive. Egypt has topless beaches. That’s nothing to do with it - they’re both conservative, one more than the other.

      The angry gay has become a bit of a stereotype after Little Britain entered ‘the only gay in the village’ into modern pop culture. It’s one of the reasons Johann Hari spouts such hatred of Little Britain (some of his other points were quite convincing, I must say) as he feels that it has taken gay rights backwards.

      He felt that gay people were coming away from the angry stereotype - and just becoming normal people. He says Little Britain seeks to say that there is no prejudice left in the UK against gays and yet gay people mince about, wave their hands and scream ‘homophobia’!

      I don’t really know what to think. Like any minority group, it’s hard to know who to listen to unless you’re part of the group. Listen to Peter Tatchell and you’ll get a warped view. And he has treated other gay people like shit too.

    36. j0nz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:22 pm  

      Well, Turkey tolerates topless beaches, nightclubs, beer, whisky, wine. Maybe its just because Turkey is a multi-faceted contradictory society in which liberal attitudes co-exist with conservative elements - just a complex messy stew. Not all that confusing really.

      I totally agree with Jay Singh, except I DO find it very confusing!

      40% back ‘honour killings

      It questioned 430 people, most of them men. When asked the appropriate punishment for a woman who has committed adultery, 37% replied she should be killed.

      Twenty-five percent said that she deserved divorce, and 21% that her nose or ears should be cut off.

    37. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:31 pm  


      I see you as a character from Little Britain - a fuckin’ donkey farts in Somerset and you wet yourself screaming ISLAM! ISLAM!

      They’re coming to get me! They’re coming to get me! The Mooslims! The Mooslims! ;-)

      I trust you had a nice Christmas dinner :-)

    38. Cyrus — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:39 pm  

      The Turks have always been unabashed pederests, when the Turks sacked Constantinople in 1453 the Sultan Mehmet took a liking to the young son of a surviving Byzantine minister. The minister understandably refused to give his son to this hirsuit barbarian so the the Sultan had two of the minister’s younger male relations beheaded in front of him. Constantinople has been going downhill ever since.

      Plus ca change, plus le meme chose, when serving with the UN in Cyrprs in the 80s the amount of open homosexulaity and pederestry (mainly local turk teen-age boys servicing beefy Anatolian conscripts) among the Turkish troops shocked me.

    39. Cyrus — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:40 pm  

      Oh I almost forgot, but this behaviour has nothing to do with Islam.

    40. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:44 pm  

      Hey - whats a bit of pederasty amongst the hirsute men of the mediterranean? Greek civilisation was built by pederasts ;-)

    41. Cyrus — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:49 pm  

      Hey whatever floats your boat.

    42. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:50 pm  

      It sinks my boat actually, but I cant wait for jOnz to jump in now with his statistics on the inherent pederast nature of Islam or something along those lines.

    43. Robert — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:53 pm  

      I do not believe that the gay community is any more prejudiced than mainstream society. My point was that racism DOES EXIST inside it though, and that I have listened to conversations on this subject with gay Asian friends

      Jay, I’m not sure this means anything, other than, as Kiran says, gay people are part of society too. Islamophobic gays is only an interesting phenomenon worthy of comment if they occur with greater feequency that straight Islamophobes. Likewise, Muslim homophobes (or Sikh homophobes, or whoever) are only an interesting phenomenon if they occur with greater fequency than non-Muslim homophobes (I’m referring to the UK here).

    44. Robert — on 3rd January, 2006 at 7:58 pm  

      I know many that say they don’t have a problem with homosexuals whatsoever but why do they have to be so camp. Just be normal and don’t act all camp and stuff.

      Sexuality is often bound up in gender identity, hence you get gay men acting camp, and the reverse example of lesbian women acting butch. Its not an act or a fashion, it just feels normal to them. Since most societies have very strictly proscribed gender roles, anyone who deviates from these is ostracised. Thank goodness we are now beginning to recognise and celebrate this diversity, without seeing it as a threat to our own masculinity or femininity.

    45. j0nz — on 3rd January, 2006 at 8:06 pm  

      I cant wait for jOnz to jump in now with his statistics on the inherent pederast nature of Islam or something along those lines.

      Well… Now you mention it…Damn you Jay… You are forcing my hand!

    46. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 8:13 pm  


      Just stating it in the context of a racist diatribe in a gay magazine.

    47. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 8:17 pm  

      Who can complain about camp gay men? They’re very funny. Imagine an England without John Inman or Kenneth Williams. Stick a camp man in a comedy show = instant laughs.

      Cant beat it.

    48. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 8:18 pm  

      Although I can imagine some gay men getting pissed off with that sterotype.

    49. Jay Singh — on 3rd January, 2006 at 8:19 pm  

      I reckon jOnz is going to convert to Islam one day ;-)

    50. Sunny — on 3rd January, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

      Lol at j0nz converting to Islam. I can see it happening. It’s like the story about one of those BNP guys (not that I’m saying he is) going out with an Asian girl. Who can resist Asian women? Not me!

      Just a point about Hinduism and Sikhism. As far as I can gather with my limited knowledge, there is no specific edict or mention of homosexuality and how it should be avoided or whatever in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (for Sikhs) or the Bhagwad Gita (for Hindus).

      Those who came out with the Rehat Maryada (‘code of conduct’ for Sikhs) later put that bit in there but I generally ignore the RM anyway. Why read that when you can get the real thing from the SGGS? Having a happy family and getting involved in society is central to Sikhism - it doesn’t say anywhere that it must be a man and a woman involved.

      In Hindu mythology, Lord Ram marries Sita, both seen as models for Hindus, but that doesn’t imply homosexuals should be killed or castigated IMO.

    51. Sajn — on 4th January, 2006 at 12:07 am  

      From my experience, it is usually British Muslims (i.e. born and brought up in the UK) who tend to be homophobic or anti-gay rather than those raised in Pakistan. I think that some of the reasons for this are a combination of English school culture, the search for an identity amongst young British Muslims and a more literalist approach towards Islam.

    52. Rohin — on 4th January, 2006 at 12:31 am  

      Sajn, I hardly think gay men in Pakistan have it any easier than gay men in the British Pakistani community. Read a few of these.

      People keep bad-mouthing English schools. My old-fashioned all boys school produced more gays than it should have, going by the national proportion, so doesn’t that mean old-fashioned English schools are actually conducive to homosexuality? We can assume that the cohort entering my school were like a slice of average England, so why were more than one would expect of my year out of the closet come convocation? Surely it was because they were more comfortable being openly gay?

      Or maybe it was Mr Gummer who used to watch us shower.

      “Wait Francis - you haven’t washed it properly”

      My serious point is that using ‘gay’ as an insult in commonplace in public school. Sure that’s wrong, but I honestly think most gay guys at my school were more concerned with other things. Public school is very rarely about genuine bullying of gay people.

    53. Old Pickler — on 4th January, 2006 at 12:56 am  

      Come to think of it, when I went to Burma, there were men in skirts (well sarongs anyway) going arm in arm. They can’t all be gay. Maybe it’s Britain where men are screwed up about gay men. Women aren’t so paranoid.

      In case anyone thinks I’m being sexist here, imagine a situation in a pub, mixed men and women. One girl says to another, “I’m going to the toilet - are you coming?”.

      This is perfectly normal. It just means are you coming to the toilet for a gossip.

      Now, imagine two blokes doing the same thing. It just wouldn’t happen. Would it?

    54. Sunny — on 4th January, 2006 at 2:48 am  

      To add to that Old Pickler, when I used to live in India it was commonplace for guys to hold hands, and it still is. It’s only when I came to this country that I found people were paranoid about being labelled homosexual. Plus there are all the connotations in the language.

      Saying that, I’ve noticed an increase, certainly within Asian parties, of guys happy to act gay just as a laugh (as girls do) without feeling like they will be judged. It only used to be our lot at school who did that…. now you go to a bhangra party and all the guys are at it… heh.

    55. Jay Singh — on 4th January, 2006 at 12:48 pm  


      I think Sajn makes a point and that is that despite the official attitude to homosexuality in Pakistan, in practice there is a large and relatively undisturbed gay sub-culture, very expressive and in some quarters tacitly accepted - just as it is in parts of India. It is strange how official attitudes and hypocrisies co-exist with a kind of folk tolerance and laissez faire sensibility towards things like this on the sub-continent. Calcutta just staged its first gay pride march a couple of years ago. And we all know the jokes told to us by Pakistani Punjabi friends about the Pathan prediliction for ‘boy love’.

      Good book on this is subject is >Same-Sex Love in India : Readings from Literature and History by Ruth Vanita


      Lambda literary award finalist, Same-Sex Love in India presents a stunning array of writings on same-sex love from over 2000 years of Indian literature. Translated from more than a dozen languages and drawn from Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and modern fictional traditions, these writings testify to the presence of same-sex love in various forms since ancient times, without overt persecution.

      Link at Amazon:


      (Sunny, you should allow us to put HTML links in these comments!)

    56. bananabrain — on 4th January, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

      it’s a funny old game, isn’t it? and then along comes sir iqbal:


      i mean, what a dilemma for ken livingstone - who does he most need to be seen to suck up to? i feel for him i really do. hur hur hur.

      for those of you interested in how jewish people deal with homosexuality, there’s a jolly good film called “trembling before G!D” directed by a chap i met a couple of years ago about orthodox gays. there’s at least one rabbi i know who started off orthodox but had to change denomination when he came out. outside orthodoxy at least the vast majority of gay people that i know personally are actually in the rabbinate, if you can believe that. incidentally, dafydd himself is one of the tribe, in case you didn’t know.

      the position of my rabbi, incidentally (who is about as liberal as you can get within the bounds of jewish law) is that although certain types of sexual behaviour are problematic, condemning and punishing people for engaging in them is even more problematic and raises the issue of selective enforcement, considering that we don’t witch-hunt and sanction those who publicly desecrate the Sabbath, which is far more serious religiously speaking. this is a get-out, of course, but at least it addresses the problem of homophobia to some degree. there is, of course, a certain amount of argument as to the degree to which halacha (jewish law) can control what goes on in a bedroom, so it does rely on consent, practically speaking. i believe there’s also an question about whether the laws are really aimed at the “dabbler” as opposed to the, uh, 100% homosexual, as it were. in other words, there’s no sanction in jewish law for homophobic language or behaviour, despite the actions of many.

      i was also wondering about this issue within the muslim world (if not islam per se), given that there is this, er, long and proud tradition, as described above. in fact, one of the most famous traditions of “boy-love” comes from the land of our taliban chums, the pathaans (or pashtouns if you want to be all war-correspondent about it) viz this celebrated poem:

      there’s a boy across the river
      with a bottom like a peach
      but alas, i cannot swim…



    57. El Cid — on 4th January, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

      Most of the above is fair comment.
      I am glad that gays have been given equal rights in the UK akin to marriage.
      But…. and people should be honest here… hands up who would like their son or daughter to turn out gay (please specify also whether you have children)?

    58. Col. Mustafa — on 4th January, 2006 at 2:29 pm  

      “in Pakistan, in practice there is a large and relatively undisturbed gay sub-culture, very expressive and in some quarters tacitly accepted - just as it is in parts of India.”

      That doesn’t mean to say that there not looked down upon; cos believe me they are.
      Just cos certain countries have little gay communities which are relatively seperate from the rest of society, doesn’t mean theyv’e been accepted.
      It means that all the camp or gay people have formed thier own group, so they don’t get picked on, bullied and also to fit in.

      Ive seen it in Bangladesh with my own eyes; there left alone as they stick to themselves.
      But they are still looked down upon, homosexuality is still looked down upon and not only that the attitude towards them is, especially the men is that there not real men.

      The ones that do accept it are the ones that most probably live near by them and do it to live in peace.
      That doesn’t mean that they accept homosexuality.

    59. Rohin — on 4th January, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

      Jay yeah I see what you and Sajn mean. It’s true - I don’t know a great deal about Pakistan but I imagine it’s similar to India, in that there are active gay/transexual/transvestite subcultures which exist quite separate to the ‘official’ rules.

      However (I’m not sure if this is what you meant) that’s not the case in Kolkata. It’s not laissez-faire there, it’s a vocal and public homosexual community. The gay pride march in Cal remains the only one in India and Kolkata also was home to India’s first gay marriage quite recently (or civil ceremony). I linked to it in the comments section of one of Sunny’s previous threads, I can dig it up if you like.

      Cal is cool :)

    60. Don — on 4th January, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

      El Cid,

      ‘hands up who would like their son or daughter to turn out gay’

      Daughter, not a problem; no unwanted pregnancies, no STD’s, no malodorous spotty-Herberts hanging around, greatly reduced chance of a physically abusive relationship, probably a phase so no need to write of grand-kids just yet.

      But I admit that if I had a son who was gay I’d be less sanguine. Not because of ‘moral’ hang-ups but because the hard times he would still be likely to face.

      Col. Mustapha makes a good point; communities might ‘tolerate’ homosexual sub-cultures, but tolerance is something the dominant group can withdraw at any time.

      Moslem, Jewish and Christians can all point to examples of gays who are not currently being persecuted, but the basic texts of these religions still identify homosexuals as offensive to god and worthy of death. A fundamentalist of any of these religions must necessarily take that view.

      Which is another reason that religious fundamentalism is incompatible with civilised society.

    61. Col. Mustafa — on 4th January, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

      It comes down to the old question which el cids already asked.

      Would you want your son or daughter to be gay?
      Many would give you the generic answer that they don’t mind what sexual orientation thier son/daughter turned out to be, its thier choice.
      But that answer would come MAINLY from parents living in societies or countries where homosexuality is already kind of accepted.
      i.e. thier son/daughter can openly say thier gay without being taunted or beaten up.
      Now even in countries wheres homosexuality is widely accepted such as UK/US you still get prejudice towards gays and also gay bashing incidents.
      But on the whole its not too bad to be gay around london and other places in uk/us.

      But Pakistan/Bangladesh/India are no where near that level of acceptance.

      Also the british schooling system does not create more homophobes amongst Pakistani males.
      The only reason males in pakistan/bangladesh/india might be less homophobic for is because theres no openly gay people around them or people telling them that its fine to be gay.
      They don”t have the sort of exposure males living in the UK/US have for them to even give a crap about gays.

    62. bananabrain — on 4th January, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

      don: whilst i’m not suggesting that the worst issue jewish lesbians, gays and bisexuals have to contend with is being mistaken for the “jewish lads’ and girls’ brigade” youth group, what i think you’re failing to appreciate is the relative importance of the issue. to be frank, we have bigger fish to fry.

      basic texts of these religions still identify homosexuals as offensive to G!D and worthy of death.

      as far as judaism is concerned, this is a misrepresentative oversimplification. if you don’t mind me doing another big fat post, i’ll reiterate a previous argument i made at http://www.comparative-religion.com. the relevant biblical verses are:

      Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
      Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”

      leaving aside the translation difficulties here, which are considerable, it occurs to me that it is possible that this verse could be easily “disarmed” simply by saying “it’s impossible to ‘lie with a male’ as one ‘lies with a female’”, for the simple reason that the acts concerned are anatomically different. nobody ever tries that particular approach. unfortunately, i don’t actually think that the text will really support that, although it would be nice if it did.

      the way i approach this admittedly difficult issue is this: halacha (jewish law) at least in its basic written form in the Torah prescribes the death penalty for almost everything, including gathering sticks on Shabbat. what you have to understand is the way that capital punishment works in practice in a halachic framework, which is this: it is virtually impossible to secure a conviction in a capital case, for the reason that the standard of proof requires would a) require two witnesses to warn the about-to-act-homosexually couple that their action was punishable by death and b) for the couple to respond immediately by saying “we know and we don’t care and we’re going to do it anyway” and then c) *immediately* proceed to carry out the forbidden act, which is in any case restricted to refer to anal sex alone.

      the next restriction would be that there would have to be a religious court that was a) authorised to try capital cases (which has not existed since the destruction of the Temple and won’t until the Messiah comes) and b) had not passed a death sentence within the last SEVENTY years. now, when you consider the number of things that technically qualify for a death sentence, the chances of getting this to trial would be effectively nil.

      finally, even in the unlikely event of having a suitable court and a suitable sinner, there is another safeguard, which is the “eye for an eye” mechanism whereby if a blind man knocks out another man’s eye, there’s no way the court can penalise him accordingly, because he hasn’t got another eye. from this, the rabbis deduced that a fine must be allowable instead and they then extended this to cover many other cases. by this logic, even if convicted, the most you would get would be a fine.

      returning to the question of equivalence, the way the halacha works is that acts that are *equivalently penalised* are seen as spiritually equivalent. therefore, if breaking Shabbat is punishable by death, then it’s logically “just as bad” as homosexuality. this equivalence means that it is halachically indefensible to sanction homosexuality *if you do not ALSO sanction Shabbat violation.* and i don’t see many jewish communal bodies that check up on whether you keep Shabbat, much less inspect what you get up to in your own bedroom. what is more, to *discriminate* against or otherwise mistreat someone verbally, physically or otherwise, on the basis of the *status* of “homosexual” (as opposed to for an actual act that you witnessed) is even *worse* than what they are supposed to have done in the first place. therefore, people who are more concerned with gays than Shabbat are guilty of imposing their own priorities on the Divine, which is really, really bad. at no point that i am aware of, do the sages start banging on about what is natural and what is unnatural, or about how sex is only for procreation (which they don’t believe) - they simply confine themselves to what is permitted and what is not.

      incidentally, none of this applies to lesbianism, btw - although it is obviously not approved of, it’s not actually explicitly forbidden and you can be an active lesbian without breaking any law as far as i know (although i am not a halachic expert).

      hopefully, i have outlined why it’s not as simple as “G!D hates gays”. i am not trying to brush this under the carpet, obviously the halachic solution falls far short of complete sanction for and acceptance of homosexuality, but you are (or at least should be) effectively protected against discrimination even if you’re disapproved of and that’s more than can be said of most other ways of addressing this issue. consequently i feel no conflict between my religious principles and my many friendships with gay people whether jewish or not (and, while i’m at it, the Torah is only addressing us when it says “you”, so actually this is only a problem for jews, as i think Q has pointed out) - in fact, by not being homophobic and fighting homophobia, i consider it to be a religious duty. so there we are.



    63. Don — on 4th January, 2006 at 6:52 pm  


      Thanks for the thoughtful response, but I would stand by my point. I’m familiar with the argument that to lie with a man as.. etc is ambivilent, but I don’t buy it any more than you do. And of course I am aware that the stricture of death for gays is in the same book that commands death for wearing mixed fabrics. My point was that while some aspects of judaism (as with christianity and islam) have found a way of accommodating the original text and still managing to live in a post-bronze age world, a fundamentalist cannot. He (or she) must stand by the text. Which says kill.

      As far as lesbianism is concerned, as far as I know the Koran makes no mention and only Paul (i.e. post-Christ {who never mentioned sexual orientation} and with his own serious sexual issues) has a problem. This could be because lesbian activity does not effect the dynastic/financial value of a woman.

      As for ‘bigger fish to fry’; wouldn’t argue, but this is the particular fish we are frying. Judaism, like the other Abrahamic religions, starts from the position that gays are subject to the death penalty and, when we feel like being nice, we’ll find a way around that. But you are still en prize, as it were.

    64. jamal — on 5th January, 2006 at 1:22 am  

      sunny.. im quite surprised you make points that you wonder why Islam is defended by politicians when they show no tolerance towards gays (i think i am correct there). Is this just another stab at Islam?

      In actual fact, gays are defended by politicians and receive exceptional rights and protection, particularly in the workplace, army, education, etc. Even getting some types of music banned from the country and elsewhere in the world. Muslim campaigners cant even get a few blasphemous cartoons banned..

      I would say that gays get the same if not more then rights regarding religions. Gays are always campaigning and always getting the politicians and media on their side. For their once illegal sexuality, they have caused it to become an actual classification and receives rights based upon this classification.

      Gays can now have these “civil partnerships” to receive similar rights as married people. something that straight couples cannot. You will argue that straight couples have marriage and so should gays.. but i will ask you why you do not also argue why straight couples do not have “civil partnerships” also?

      I cannot speak for all muslims but i can for myself. i do not like homosexuality, but i tolerate it as it is an accepted activity (or whatever you want to call it) in this country by law. i do not wish to transgress the laws or related policies and therefore my opinion is that gays are just another set of deviants that are allowed to live and act as they choose.

      gays may consider myself or other muslims as deviants also of a differing nature for not liking them due to our religion. They therefore have a right (according to their own principles) to be angry towards myself or other muslims.

      The point is that I do not really care what they think of my opinion and do not really care of the opinion they have of myself or other muslims.

    65. Sunny — on 5th January, 2006 at 2:27 am  

      Jamal - my point here wasn’t go on about the legal technicalities on civil or marriage partnerships.

      My point here was about being against opression and keeping an open mind about tolerating other people who may have different lifestyles or opinions.

      There is a Muslim Lesbian and Gay group too - http://www.imaan.org.uk - and I bet they get enough hate-mail from Muslims.

      I’m not asking you to embrace homosexuality. I’m asking why people can’t just live and let live, specially since we’ve had to go through the same hardships on similar issues of tolerance and equality.

    66. jamal — on 5th January, 2006 at 8:35 pm  

      The “technicalities” are important as they relate to the issue. You cannot argue for the issue if you wish to ignore the related issues.

      The existence of a ‘gay muslim group’ has as much significance for Islam as ‘Al Qaeda’, or a ‘pork earting muslim group’ does. It is irrelavent to the issue of Islam as the specified activity is ‘against’ Islam rather then ‘for’.

      Why do you think that muslims specifically or collectively are not “tolerant” of gays and do not “live and let live”?

      If people critisise Islam that is their choice. I do request their understanding and that they silence their tongues if they do not, but only if they are being offensive. It is not offensive for them to say they do not like muslims and do not agree with Islam. This is their choice of opinion. The same that I have regarding issues including homosexuality. I have asked you this before… will you tolerate your sons “hardships” and fight for “equality” when he comes home from primary school and tells you he has a boyfriend?

    67. Col. Mustafa — on 5th January, 2006 at 8:46 pm  

      So what’s a muslim supposed to do when he or she finds out that they have feelings for the same sex?
      Pray to god for forgiveness.

    68. Rohin — on 5th January, 2006 at 9:02 pm  

      No! Commit suicide!

      No, damn, that’s a sin!

      Erm…masturbate and don’t act on the urges!

      Shit, same problem!

      Uhh…any suggestions?

      Even gay people who want to follow their faith would be chucked out by people like jamal who think that if you contravene one rule, you are no Muslim. Then why, pray tell, do people tolerate the gambling, good-for-nothing sheikhs of Saudi, the boozers of Bradford, the womanisers all over the world get different treatment. Sure they may be ‘disapproved of’ but no one kicks them out of the mosque nor rallies to call them evil.

      Bunch of double standards.

    69. jamal — on 6th January, 2006 at 12:12 am  

      “So what’s a muslim supposed to do when he or she finds out that they have feelings for the same sex?
      Pray to god for forgiveness.”

      A juvinile comment and a bigoted response.

      I assume many also have feelings of drug use, alcohol use, adultry, suicide, crime, gambling, racism, deciet, etc. I they wish to pursue them then this is their choice. Reference to the Quran will tell them that they should not pursue such a course of action. Some will follow this advice, other will ignore it, others will justify their actions on an imaginary scale of deviancy whilst doing so.

      Cotravening one rule does not make a person not a muslim. Note it is stated that whilst one commits the sinful act they are not a muslim at the time of committing the act but are a muslim both before and after. The key point being that they agree the act, attitude or behaviour to be wrong.

      What I am saying is that it is that however it is argued it is unacceptable in Islam and as a Muslim. Furthermore, to live a life under the classification of a “homosexual” is a direct contradiction of Islam and is therefore unjustifiable. One cannot live a life of continously committing sin regarded as worthy of death, hell, and refusal from paradise and still claim it is ok in Islam. It is not ok. This is all i am saying. I did not write the rules, i merely agree with them and follow them.

    70. Col. Mustafa — on 6th January, 2006 at 12:45 am  


      “Furthermore, to live a life under the classification of a “homosexual” is a direct contradiction of Islam and is therefore unjustifiable. One cannot live a life of continously committing sin regarded as worthy of death, hell, and refusal from paradise and still claim it is ok in Islam. It is not ok. This is all i am saying. I did not write the rules, i merely agree with them and follow them.”

      What would you say to your brother or sister or son or daughter in a real life situation if they told you they were gay?
      Would you give em that little speech about why islam says its wrong, and tell them to stop being gay?
      Or would you kill them, because it says so.

      Learn to use your own mind and not quote me why being gay is not compatible with islam.

      The concept of homosexuality has been around longer than any manmade religion on this earth and its something that humans cant help but feel.
      But clearly Islam doesn’t want to acknowledge that.

      “One cannot live a life of continously committing sin regarded as worthy of death, hell, and refusal from paradise and still claim it is ok in Islam.”

      So they would have to denounce islam.
      What if they live in country where the majority religion is islam?
      Would they be given the choice to denounce and live in peace then?
      Fuck no, thier worthy of death if their gay, and probably the same if they denounce islam.
      Any intelligent person must see the problem here.

    71. Rohin — on 6th January, 2006 at 12:58 am  

      “Note it is stated that whilst one commits the sinful act they are not a muslim at the time of committing the act but are a muslim both before and after”

      Is that true? That’s the most inane thing I’ve heard today!

      Mustafa, all intelligent people DO see the problem.

    72. Siddharth — on 6th January, 2006 at 1:03 am  

      Sounds like something the old Aga Khan would tell his followers before popping off to the brothel for a bit of ‘ows yer father. Wine would turn into water as it passed his lips, don’t you know.

    73. bananabrain — on 6th January, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

      My point was that while some aspects of judaism (as with christianity and islam) have found a way of accommodating the original text and still managing to live in a post-bronze age world, a fundamentalist cannot. He (or she) must stand by the text. Which says kill.
      ok - and it’s a good point, but what i was saying is that even our strictest fundamentalists would have great difficulty finding sanction for actually putting this into practice without being in breach of even more laws. there are always nutters but the point is that they are committing even worse sins.

      you are of course correct that we are all “en prise” but i think it’s also a question of your priorities. i was just saying, that if you want to get technical, every single jew is guilty many times over of things which require one of the four court-exacted deaths of stoning, burning, decapitation and strangling (no matter how humanely, uh, executed) and thus the fact that we somehow get through each day without being smitten with Divine retribution is in itself a miracle and requires us to thank G!D for Divine Compassion. on yom kippur we spend the whole day analysing our shortcomings in detail and it never fails to do my head in just how much repentance i would need to do to just come up to minimal standards. of course, one response is to curse G!D and reject religion, but somehow faith can be maintained and fulfilment and happiness can be enjoyed nonetheless. it’s the difference between optimism and pessimism.

      in conclusion, i think a world without some double standards in practical application would be very hard to live in - this is why our sages said “if the Holy Blessed One Created the world according to the measure of strict justice, it could not function - therefore it was Created with the measure of Divine compassion” - we should therefore strive to imitate G!D in our compassion, rather than in our strict justice, because frankly nobody’s on a winner that way.



      btw: remember which country had a transvestite win eurovision?

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