PRINCIPLES OF (GAY) SECULAR SEXUAL MORALITY

I chose to give this post the title “principles of (gay) secular sexual morality” putting the word gay in brackets because, although to form my opinion on the subject I have referred to my environment, that is gay people, the result of my reflection is independent of sexual orientation. The reflections are very general, I start by acknowledging a discomfort and therefore a conflict and tend to resolve it with a proposal.

Discomfort, as such, and in this case the moral distress identified as guilt, it is believed originated from an conflict inside the conscience between what you should be and what you are. According to the most common schematization, the transgression of a moral precept leads to guilt, but it is actually difficult to define both what you should be and what you are.

The real action can be more or less free, but also the moral norm with which the concrete action is compared often derives from more or less forced internalization of external regulatory assumptions on which very often it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to have any rational control. If the concepts of good and evil are defined for passive assimilation of external codes the meter itself of moral judgment falters.

In front of the definition of the criteria of moral there are two substantially different attitudes, dogmatic one for which the distinction between moral and immoral is objective and morality looks like a system formal and legalistic, and the other that focuses on the size of individual freedom and of the subjective judgment. The first trend “teaches moral norms”, the second “opens the door to the individual conscience” and of course, at least within broad areas, to the subjectivity of conscience. The moral of individual freedom is not the moral of individualism, selfishness, etc.. etc.., but the moral of the individual pursuit of the good. In this individual research, indeed, the fundamental principle is the realization of the good of the other, an altruistic principle.

Beyond the individual rules of behavior, which are left to individual freedom, what is altruistic has to be considered moral and what is egoistic has to be considered immoral. It is clear that certainly continue to exist behaviors that should be considered “objectively” immoral and must be attentively prevented and are those who are in the criminal law that punishes acts objectively detrimental to the others rights.

While the champions of the objectivity of the moral norm spread a teaching of well defined moral principles, that despite the stated objectivity are strongly characterized historically and culturally (there is no objective morality shared by all), the champions of moral freedom of individual tend to spread a pedagogy of freedom that merely indicates the pourpose (altruism) and leaves to the individual conscience the search for ways to realize it.

In a prescriptive morality, beyond the predictable statements that try to bring up the opposite, it makes no sense to distinguish between the one who commits an error and the error itself because what matters from the moral point of view is not the person but what that person does, the individual conscience is really considered a poor thing, on the contrary in a morality of freedom, except in cases of major criminal behavior, moral judgment is subjective and internal to conscience, I mean that evaluating the good and the bad outside the conscience of the individual completely loses meaning.

The society in which we live is the result of centuries of moral precepts and for this reason the prescriptive moral is generally perceived as the only possible moral. The transmission of value systems and moral codes thus tends to perpetuate the prescriptive moral from one generation to another creating the illusion that that moral is absolute and eternal.

When the moral code absorbed from the outside is not properly fitting to the life of the individual, a conflict raises up, this conflict could be resolved adjusting the individual behavior on internalized moral norm but since this method tends to reduce the freedom of the individual, it is better to look for a different way and  weaken the moral norm, its interpretation becomes flexible, and this way creates less discomfort, but in reality flexible interpretations leave survive the whole edifice of formal moral, which is the very reason for the discomfort, because the norm is imposed by forcing freedom of individual morality. In essence, the need for moral freedom almost always returns to the surface (when it has been suppressed not too violently) and internalized normative codes, without being challenged, are actually removed or weakened.

I wonder if no longer it makes sense to respect the individual moral freedom from the beginning. Doesn’t it make more sense to educate people about freedom of choice? There are some countries in which the pedagogy of freedom has existed for many years and not only did not facilitate the abuse but educated to a sense of responsibility

Let’s try to bring the theoretical discourse in practice.

A guy growing up realizes that he is gay, if he has been educated according to a prescriptive moral, he can perhaps feel in trouble, in conflict with the family, the religion and the society, and can also live very deep hardship. If he doesn’t end up giving up entirely to himself, sooner or later the individual freedom will emerge, will eventually the norm too much rigid will weaken, the guy will follow in appearance the standard behaviour in front of the family, the religious community and other public places, but sooner or later, that guy will find ways to get back his freedom.

On the contrary If that guy had been educated from the beginning to the moral freedom there would be nothing with which to come into conflict and he would wonder how to live responsibly his homosexuality, that guy must be aware of some objective limits that cannot be eliminated and that while leaving freedom on how to implement the welfare of others, however, requires not to damage them in any way. In this case the first moral duty is the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. It is clear that the first postulate of morality is “objectively do not harm others.”

How may that guy trying to do right, realize what is the good of the other? The answer is quite simple, he has to try to see situations from the point of view of the other, it is certainly not easy to try to evaluate  the effect of our actions as they appear in the eyes of the other. Good and evil are not measured on the intentions of the agent but from the point of view of the persons to whom actions are addressed. In this sense, no behavior in the context of moral freedom is good or bad in itself because the assessment can be given only by to those who act trying to understand the effects of what they do (principle of responsibility).

Let’s go to a concrete example: sex yes or no? The answer is obtained immediately starting from the point of view of the other. No sex if sexual contact is not wanted by the other, or if it may cause him, later, remorse or situations of discomfort; sex, yes, if your personal desire meets the one of the other in a free and spontaneous. And if things are not very clear? Here, too, the answer is simple, the solutions to the questions must be seek in two, the other is not only the recipient of our assessments, but chooses with us and sharing doubts and uncertainties helps prevent misjudgements. On the other hand among people accustomed to moral freedom, the judgment about a man depends on his honesty, on his lack of ulterior motives, on the consistency of the manner of his speaking with his way of being and on his willingness to get involved on equal terms with other persons.

From this discussion we arrive at a necessary conclusion: the basis of sexuality education and, I might add, of all forms of education should be the education for freedom. Our freedom and that of others form the foundation of morality and our happiness and that of others constitute its purpose.

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ST. PIUS V AND HOMOSEXUALS

St. Pius V, Antonio Ghisleri (1504-1572) (Michael his name in religion) entered the Dominicans very young, right after having ruled several Dominican convents and churches, according with his request he was appointed inquisitor of Como (a little town in the Northern Italy), then he was called to the Roman Inquisition and became Commissioner-General of the Inquisition, in 1558 he was appointed Grand Inquisitor.

At the time that Ghisleri was Commissioner-General of the Inquisition two Dominicans, Valerio Malverni and Alfonso Urbino, inquisitors of Calabria, took care of the Waldensian communities settled in Calabria, in a mountainous region of the Kingdom of Naples . The interests of the Inquisition and those of the Kingdom of Naples, also the economic ones, where mingled with the repression of heresy pursued with the use of violence.

The Holy Office (i.e. the Roman Inquisition) issued on February 9, 1561 some ordinances intended to regulate the lives of the Waldenses of Calabria, usually called “ultramontani”. Were prohibited meetings of more than six people, the use of their language, the Occitan, the marriage between two of them for the next 25 years, “ultramontane” where only allowed to marry ‘Italians’. The children were to be instructed in the Catholic doctrine, everyone had to hear Mass every morning, to confess and to take communion every holiday. Men were forced to wear the “sambenito” also called yellow “abitello” (a sort of yellow blouse with a red cross of St. Andrew on both the front and back just like the one that was imposed by the Inquisitors to the heretics who had expressed remorse after conviction or in front of the fire. Women were forced to wear a “penaglio” a sort of hat saddle-shaped, considered a sign of penance, that was to be worn also at night and tore the hair of women making them bald. The doors of the houses on the Waldenses (at that time, in that place consisted of a single room) were modified by inserting a peephole, which could only be opened from the outside to allow anyone to check what was happening inside. Ghisleri (St. Pius V) was in correspondence with Melverni and approved his work, it is known that, when he became Pope, he was going to appoint him bishop of any diocese of the Kingdom of Naples, which was not the case for the opposition of Cardinal Santori.

When Malverni and Urbino proposed the Waldensians a choice between apostasy and death, Waldensians went into hiding, and around Guardia Fuscalda, San Sisto dei Valdesi, Montalto, San Vincenzo, Argentina, Vaccarizzo e Piano dei Rossi, was organized a colossal hunting to capture the Waldensians. 2200 men, women and children were slaughtered in a gruesome manner, other 1600 were captured. All this was the work of the Inquisition in defense of the faith, but there are also other considerable things.

Paul IV Carafa (also an Inquisitor as Pope St. Pius V) two months after ascending to the papacy in 1555, with the Bull “Cum Nimis Absurdum” established ghettos for Jews with a number of restrictions and harassments that gave the first impulse the escape of the Jews from the Papal States, it is basically a law clearly discriminatory and anti-Semitic. His successor, Pius IV, tried to mitigate and limit the weight of anti-Semitic policies of Paul IV but St. Pius V Ghisleri in 1566 with the Bull Romanus Pontifex restored the anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Paul IV Carafa, St. Pius V had a high opinion of Pope Paul IV because both came from the ranks of the Inquisition.

The Bull of St. Pius V “Hebraeorum gens” of February 26, 1569 decreed the expulsion of the Jews from the Papal States with the only exception of residents in the ghettos of Rome and Ancona, but beyond the mandatory content the Bull is a true manifesto of anti-Semitism. The Pope criticizes the “perfidious Jews” accusing them of having fallen out of favor of God because of their sins, that’s why they were condemned to continue wandering without a homeland.

Eventually Christian piety, pitying their sad fate, tolerated the presence of the Jews but they, however, with their wickedness and their perfidy have pushed the situation to such an extent that the Pope felt compelled, for the salvation of Christians, to curb the violence of such a disease.

The Pope accuses the Jews of being usurers and to exploit the poor Christians, of being thieves and fences, of being pimps and magicians dedicated to evil satanic tricks that lead to believe them to be able to see the future or to find treasures. The Pope then raises his voice against this scourge that causes enormous damage every day to the Christians, and decrees that all Jews must to go out of the Papal State within three months, after that term, if a Jew will be found still on the papal territory, his property will be confiscated and he will be reduced in a state of perpetual servitude. This is basically a form of racism mixed with religious intolerance.

After having considered this background we are going to analyze the position of St. Pius V against homosexuals. Following are two Constitutions that define the question. The documents use the “pluralis maiestatis” that is the Pope, referring to himself never says “I” but always “We” because of his majesty role.
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St. Pius V, Constitution “Cum primum” of 1 April 1566.
Rules regarding the observance of divine worship in the churches, and the observance of holidays, and also against simony, blasphemers, sodomites and concubines.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory

(Debut]
As soon as we received the apostolic office entrusted to us by divine disposition, soon we focused all our attention and all our meditation on the salvation of the Lord’s flock entrusted to our faithfulness and settled, with the help of God, to lead the faithful of Christ so that, abstaining from vices and sins, they will follow the path that leads to eternal life.

[The reason for this decision]
1. After facing the sharpness of our mind to remove all the things that might in any way offend the Divine Majesty, first we decided to amend without delay what may displease God to the maximum degree and could cause his anger, so as the Scriptures teach us giving also very serious examples: certainly the divine worship neglected, the scourge of simony, the crime of blasphemy and abominable vice of lust against nature, it’s just because of such things that peoples and nations are often affected for just revenge of God by calamities of war, famine and pestilence. Even if against those who have confessed so terrible crimes, have been issued by our predecessors many measures, however, since it is a small thing to issue laws if there are not those who make them effective in due course:

[Reaffirmation of the old sanctions against disobedience to this decree]
2. So that does not happen that someone dares to hope impunity by virtue of tolerance, we, knowing that most people are used to keep away from the will to sin much more due to the severity of the penalties that the fear of God, confirm all of the individual judgments the claims and the penalties that have been imposed on those who had committed these crimes and in fact, with our apostolic authority, we renew and in no way diminish their rigor, and warn those who have not been afraid to commit these crimes that they will not only be subject to the penalties as are prescribed by the sacred canons, but also will be subject to those civil laws set according to what the discretion of our decision will establish in relation to the quality of the people.

[Order to perform these provisions]
3. We order that Bishops and Governors in office of the cities and places of our ecclesiastical state, Bishops under pain of removal from ecclesiastical offices and Governors under pain of immediate and automatic excommunication, care to capture those who didn’t worship to God in churches with established rite or had been found guilty of heinous crimes, to condemn them to the established pains. Then the judges themselves must keep in mind that if after this our decree they will be negligent in punishing crimes of this magnitude, first of all they will be punished by the judgment of God and then they will also face our indignation.

11. If someone has committed a heinous crime against nature, because of which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, he will be delivered to the secular court to be punished, and if he is a cleric, he will be deprived of holy orders and will be subject to same penalty.

13. And to enable judges to obtain very easily notice about aforementioned crimes of simony, blasphemy and rape nefarious, we want that they can proceed in every case if they are competent in jurisdiction or by reason of the type of crime or of the people, not only for prosecution and inquisition but also as a result of a simple secret complaint , in order to create among those men space for the prevention.

14. However, we warn each and every of you, so that keeping before your eyes only the fear of God and not driven by other bad affections of the soul, you will accuse only the guilty man and never the innocent one. Therefore, if it is discovered that someone accused another so libelous, we will and command that he must be subject to the rule of retaliation.
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St. Pius V, Constitution “Horrendum illud scelus” of August 30, 1568.
Against any clergy, both secular and regular, guilty of the heinous crime.
Pius bishop servant of the servants of God, for an everlasting memory

[Debut]
The horrible crime that soiled and contaminated the cities to the point that they were scorched by the terrible judgment of God with fierce pain assails us and severely disrupts our heart so that we concentrate all our efforts to suppress it as much as possible.

[Statements of the Lateran Council]
1. It is certainly well known the decree of the Lateran Council, according to which all clerics who were surprised involved in incontinence which is against nature and for which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition, must be expelled from the clergy or be forced into monasteries to do penance.

[The cause of this new decision]
2. But, in order to stop the contagion of such a disaster avoiding it to strengthen becoming more and more brazen in the hope of impunity which is the strongest incentive to sin, we have determined that clerics guilty of this heinous crime should be punished so heavy that they who are not scared by the death of the soul will remain terrified by the avenging sword of secular civil laws.

[Imposition of the death penalty]
3. So we want now pursue more comprehensively and strongly what at the very beginning of our pontificate we decreed upon these things, that’s why with the authority of this canon, we deprive of any clerical privilege and any office, dignity or ecclesiastical benefit each and every priest or other secular cleric of any degree of dignity who put into practice such a heinous wickedness, so that degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, he will be immediately delivered to the secular justice, to undergo the same punishment that is established for the laymen by the legitimate legal rules.
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St. Pius V, with the criteria of a modern international criminal court, could be accused of serious human rights violations and also of crimes against mankind, but he is still often cited as a moral teacher and a typical restorer of ecclesiastical costumes of the Counter-Reformation. His condemnation of homosexuality is considered an example of the doctrine of the Church, and I think that, unfortunately, it is the case. I want to emphasize that this is St. Pius V, a man raised to the honors of the altars and presented as an example to the churchgoers.

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GAYS AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION

In recent days I have had the opportunity to carefully examine a very interesting document of the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (Federal Centre for Health Education), entitled STANDARDS FOR SEXUALITY EDUCATION IN EUROPE.

The document was published in 2010 and, after presenting an overview of sex education in Europe, defines the standards that should be followed for sexuality education as they went through the maturing of sex education activities already in operation in Europe and throughout the scientific contributions of the many disciplines involved.

Reading this document has led me to reflect on the enormous need for sexuality education and the response of public institutions, essentially nothing, at least in Italy. Sexuality education is effectively delegated to the peer group, religious institutions, and even now on a large scale, to pornography.

A serious sexuality education, built on the basis of information coming from specialists in various disciplines, independent from religious teachings and respecting sexual rights of people is one of the pillars for the improvement not only in the situation of homosexuals but for the increase in personal and collective well-being of all. I emphasize that sexuality education should be compulsory and independent from religious teachings, in the sense that parents should not be allowed for any reason to ask for exemption of children from participation in educational activities, because this would be a violation of the rights of children in the name of parents’ convictions.

Many young guys, gay guys and not only ,have got to experience the absolute lack of preparation of teachers in imparting a serious sex education and even the presence of prejudices and discriminatory attitudes. Contents of sexuality education are often conveyed through other disciplines on the basis of personal feelings of teachers and with no scientific basis, many have found that religion classes often result in areas of indirect sexuality education. A serious sexuality education could have a strong social impact, not only in reducing sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and teenage bullying, but in improving the sexual and emotional relatedness of people in enabling them to make their own choices on the basis of objective scientific information, promoting an attitude of serenity toward sexual pleasure, to increase self-esteem and sense of responsibility. The fact that sexuality becomes, for groups of teenagers and sometimes also adults, an object of ridicule and jokes is a sign of immaturity in dealing with these issues.

The document to which I have referred, precisely because it is open to all, prepares a draft of a general nature.

This post is a concrete proposal. I invite you to read the document and report your past and present need for sex education. You can add a comment to this post or send a mail to gayproject@ymail.com

In particular, I invite you to report on:

1) the sexuality education you received and from what sources.

2) the sexuality education ay school.

3) what did you miss most in terms of sexual education.

Of course you can write what you think better even beyond these indications. I will try to summarize what gradually emerges from the discussion to define guidelines for sexuality education useful to non-heterosexual and to avoid discrimination.

The intention is to define standards for sexuality education related to non-straight people.

As a first contribution, I reproduce below the cap. 2 of the mentioned document, from which I extract three definitions that can be the basis for the next job.

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2. SEXUALITY. SEXUAL HEALTH AND SEXUALITY EDUCATION – DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS

The concepts of sex, sexuality, sexual health and rights, and directly related concepts are to some extent interpreted differently in different countries or cultures. If translated into other languages, they may again be understood differently. Some clarification of the way these concepts are used here is therefore needed.

In January 2002, the World Health Organization convened a technical consultation meeting as part of a more comprehensive initiative, which aimed at defining some of those concepts, because there were no internationally agreed definitions. This resulted in working definitions of the concepts of sex, sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights.

Although these definitions have not yet become official WHO definitions, they are available at the WHO website, and they are increasingly being used. In this document, they are likewise used as working definitions.

“Sex” refers to biological characteristics that define humans generally as female or male, although in ordinary language the word is often interpreted as referring to sexual activity.

“Sexuality” – as a broad concept, “sexuality” is defined in accordance with the WHO working definitions as follows:

“Human sexuality is a natural part of human development through every phase of life and includes physical, psychological and social components […]”.

A more comprehensive definition suggested by WHO reads as follows.

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

For a number of reasons, this definition is very useful. It stresses that sexuality is central to being human; it is not limited to certain age groups; it is closely related to gender; it includes various sexual orientations, and it is much wider than reproduction. It also makes clear that “sexuality” encompasses more than just behavioural elements and that it may vary strongly, depending on a wide variety of influences. The definition indirectly indicates that sexuality education should also be interpreted as covering a much wider and much more diverse area than “education on sexual behaviour”, for which it is unfortunately sometimes mistaken.

“Sexual health” was initially defined by WHO in a 1972 technical meeting, and reads as follows:

“Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love”.

Although this definition is rather outdated, it is still often used.

During the WHO technical consultation in 2002, a new draft definition of sexual health was agreed upon. This new 2002 draft definition reads:

“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

This draft definition emphasizes not only the need for a positive approach, the essential aspect of pleasure, and the notion that sexual health encompasses not just physical, but also emotional, mental and social aspects. It also alerts the user to potentially negative elements, and for the first time it mentions the existence of “sexual rights” – two issues which were almost absent in the 1972 definition. Also, those potentially negative elements are not focused upon as is often the case in HIV and AIDS literature on the subject. In short, it is a balanced definition.

Sexual health is one of five core aspects of the WHO global Reproductive health strategy approved by the World Health Assembly in 2004. It should be stressed that WHO has, since the early 1950s, defined and approached “health” in a very broad and positive manner, referring to it as a “human potential” and not merely the absence of disease, and including not only physical, but also emotional, mental, social and other aspects. For these latter reasons, it is felt that the WHO definitions are acceptable and useful starting points for discussing sexuality education. Thus in this document the term “sexual health” is used, but this includes the meaning and notion of ”sexual well-being”. Sexual health is not only influenced by personal factors, but also by social and cultural ones.

Sexual rights – embracing especially the right to information and education. As mentioned before, the 2002 WHO meeting also came up with a draft definition of sexual rights, which reads as follows.

“Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

 the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;

 seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;

 sexuality education;

 respect for bodily integrity;

 choose their partner;

 decide to be sexually active or not;

 consensual sexual relations;

 consensual marriage;

 decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and

 pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.”

Although this is only a draft definition, it is used as a starting point in this document, because it is felt that the elements included here have a broad support base throughout Europe. Furthermore, it is important to note that in this definition the right to information and education is explicitly included.

A note of caution is needed here, however. Clearly, some of the rights mentioned have been conceived with adult persons as the point of reference. This means that not all of those rights are automatically applicable to children and adolescents. For example, it is clear that issues like consensual marriage or right to decide on childbearing do not yet apply to children or young adolescents.

The right of the child to information has also been acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was conceived in 1989 and has since been ratified by the vast majority of States. It clearly states the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds (Article 13); Article 19 refers to States’ obligation to provide children with educational measures to protect them, inter alia, from sexual abuse.

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In summary, we can adopt the following definitions that conform to the recommendations of the World Health Organization:

DEFINITIONS OF KEY TERMS

“Sex” refers to biological characteristics that define humans generally as female or male, although in ordinary language the word is often interpreted as referring to sexual activity.

“Human sexuality is a natural part of human development through every phase of life and includes physical, psychological and social components […]”.

“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.”

“Sexual health is the integration of the somatic, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual being in ways that are positively enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love”.

“Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.”

“Sexual rights embrace human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus statements. They include the right of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, to:

the highest attainable standard of sexual health, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services;

 seek, receive and impart information related to sexuality;

 sexuality education;

 respect for bodily integrity;

 choose their partner;

 decide to be sexually active or not;

 consensual sexual relations;

 consensual marriage;

 decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and

 pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life.

The responsible exercise of human rights requires that all persons respect the rights of others.”

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HOMOSEXUALITY, MASTURBATION AND SEXUAL PLEASURE – SCIENCE AND CONFESSIONAL PROSPECTS

I reproduce below, in my translation, part of a major study that you can read on the website of the World Health Organization: “Sexual Health for the Millennium. A Declaration and Technical Document “a publication of the World Association for Sexual Health.

http://www2.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2010/Sexual%20Health%20for%20the%20Millennium.pdf

The passage is taken from Chapter 8 “Achieve Recognition of Sexual Pleasure as a Component of Well-being” pp.135-138.

SEXUAL PLEASURE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Throughout much of human history, passionate love and sexual desire have been viewed as dangerous, a threat to the social, political and religious order (Hatfield & Rapson, 1993). During the current historical period, religion and medicine have had powerful influences on societal norms for sexual health and sexual behavior (Hart & Wellings, 2002) and in some important respects these institutions have inherited and continued the tradition of viewing sexual desire, and by extension, pleasure with varying degrees of suspicion.

It is not possible to make tidy generalizations about the extent to which the major religions have held either “sex negative” or “sex positive” perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality. However, it may be said that in various historical periods, many religions, including Christianity and Islam have focused on the reproductive aspects and function of sexuality. Consequently, they have sought strict controls on sexual behavior particularly outside of marriage between a man and a woman, behavior that does not lead to reproduction (e.g., masturbation) and viewed sexual pleasure, particularly that of women and homosexual men and women, with contempt (For extensive documentation and analysis of religious perspectives toward sexuality throughout history see Bullough, 1980, Hawkes, 2004). Numerous scholars have documented the disdain for sexual pleasure expressed by Christian theologians and institutions throughout much of the church’s history (e.g., Pagels, 1988). Masturbation, in particular, has been a contentious topic as its primary purpose is to produce pleasure (Coleman, 2002). Research on masturbation has indicated that contrary to traditional beliefs, masturbation has been found to be a common sexual behavior and linked to indicators of sexual health. While there are no general indicators of ill health associated with masturbation, it can generate powerfully negative or positive emotions for many individuals. It can be powerfully negative or positive, depending on the interaction between the prevailing societal attitudes and individual attitudes and behaviors (Coleman, 2002).

In fact, research has indicated that masturbation begins early and is an important part of healthy sexual development (Langfeldt, 1981). It is often a marker of sexual development (Bancroft, Herbenick, D., & Reynolds, 2002). Many young people learn about their bodies and sexual responsiveness through masturbation (Atwood & Gagnon, 1987). Masturbation also continues throughout the life span. For example, many adults continue to masturbate even though they are married and have ready access to sexual intercourse (Laumann et al., 1994). Masturbation can also help older people who do not have an available partner to maintain sexual functioning and expression (Leiblum & Bachmann, 1988). It is also a safe alternative to behaviors that carry a risk of a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. The benefits of masturbation are illustrated by its wide acceptance in sex therapy as a means of improving the sexual health of the individual and/or couple (Heiman & LoPiccolo, 1988; Leiblum & Rosen, 1989; Zilbergeld, 1992).

Addressing masturbation within sexual health promotion programming can be controversial. However the available evidence suggests that including masturbation as a topic within comprehensive sexual health promotion is important and necessary.

There is a need for more research, including theory development and hypothesis testing, on the impact of masturbation on self-esteem, body image, sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction and the effective incorporation of education about masturbation within sexual health promotion programs.

It must be noted that positive and progressive perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality are emerging from groups from a variety of religious faiths. Nevertheless, it must also be acknowledged that the legacy of a largely negative interpretation of sexual pleasure, particularly if it is experienced in a context contrary to particular religious norms for sexual conduct, by many religious institutions is still with us today and continues to hinder the recognition of pleasure in sexual health promotion efforts in many parts of the world. With respect to international efforts to promote sexual health, the alliance of the United States, the Vatican and conservative Muslim and Catholic states in opposing the recognition of diverse sexual rights, including those related to pleasure, is testimony to the continued influence of conservative religious forces in shaping polices related to sexual health (Ilkkaracan, 2005).

Since the latter half of the 19th century, medicine and medical science has, particularly in the Western world, exercised considerable authority over sexuality and here too we find that sexual pleasure was often seen as pathology. As Hart and Wellings (2002) suggest “The long tradition of representing illness as a punishment for sin was continued when sexual behavior was medicalized and transformed into morbidity” (p. 896). For example, masturbation, homosexual desire and overt sexual interest, particularly if expressed by women was until quite recently seen by medicine as symptomatic of psychiatric illness and perversion.

Although contemporary medicine and some religious institutions have turned the corner in recognizing the positive and beneficial aspects of sexual expression, many remnants of the propensity to focus on the negative outcomes of sexual expression remains with us. “Today’s public discourse about sexuality is almost exclusively about risks and dangers: abuse, addiction, dysfunction, infection, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, and the struggle of sexual minorities for their civil rights” (Planned Parenthood Federation of America [PPFA], 2003. p. 1).

Although, in most cultures, sexual desire and pleasure receive their widest endorsement within the context of a relationship, sexual desire and pleasure are increasingly coming to be seen as intrinsically positive and rewarding aspects of human experience. While a concern with pleasure is sometimes thought of as a decadent preoccupation of a secular Western culture, it is important to note that many diverse cultures have strong traditions of affirming sexual pleasure. For example, within Brazilian culture the concept of tudo or “Everything” refers to the world of erotic experiences and pleasures (de Freitas, de Oliveira, & Rega, 2004). Indeed, a contemporary discourse of pleasure can be found in many non-western cultures. For example, in Turkey, a country not known for its affirmation of women’s sexual pleasure, a grassroots program that emphasized sexual pleasure as a women’s human right was conducted (Ilkkaracan & Seral, 2000). Organizations such as the South and Southeast Asian Resource Centre on Sexuality (Patel, online) are raising the issue of pleasure in the context of sexual health. From their review of historical and cross-cultural perspectives on passionate love and sexual desire, Hatfield and Rapson (1993) conclude that the tide of history is in the direction of “….an increasing acceptance of passionate love and sexual desire as legitimate, expressible feelings” (p. 91).

Sexual leasure is necessary and contributes to well-being, happiness and health

Romantic love is a primary feature of couple relationships and is expressed through sexuality and sexual passion for the partner (Esch & Stefano, 2005). Although social, political and economic differences across time and place can markedly impact upon sexual attitudes and behavior, cross-cultural research has found that people in all societies place a high value on being with a partner for whom there is “mutual attraction-love” (Buss et al., 1990). Sexual desire and pleasure are embedded in and a fundamental aspect of the mutual attraction between partners.

The mutual sharing of sexual pleasure has been shown to increase bonding within relationships (Weeks, 2002). As Tepper (2000) writes with respect to the neglected rights of people with disabilities to enjoy their sexuality, “Pleasure is an affirmation of life…It can add a sense of connectedness to the world or to each other. It can heal a sense of emotional isolation so many of us feel even though we are socially integrated” (p. 288).

In sum, the enjoyment of sexual pleasure plays an important role in contributing to the establishment, maintenance and stability of couple relationships and, without doubt, the quality of couple relationships is fundamental to the health and well-being of individuals and families. While sexual pleasure can be seen as an end in-of-itself, for many, if not most people, sexual pleasure is intertwined with feelings of intimacy and affection for their partner. Sexual desire and pleasure not only facilitate reproduction, they function as a mechanism of social attachment for the couple relationship, an essential kinship structure in all cultures of the world (Fisher, 2002).

At the most foundational level, sexual pleasure is rooted in the most basic of human functions as has been recognized by evolutionary psychology. In the context of adaptive behavior and its necessity in evolution, it would appear that the pleasure generated by sexual stimulation, orgasm or intercourse would be selected-for evolutionarily. Consequently, pleasure can be seen as an effective and important adaptive mechanism, the function of which is to ensure the procreation and survival of the species (Esch & Stefano, 2005, p. 182).

To the extent that a society is concerned with the well-being and stability of families generally, and couples specifically, it is in the interests of policy makers to recognize the importance of sexual pleasure and to implement sexual health promotion programs that address sexual pleasure as fundamental to individual and couple health and wellbeing.

The recent Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors that examined various aspects of sexual health among a sample of 27,500 men and women aged 40 to 80 from 29 culturally diverse countries around the world offers strong evidence of the importance of pleasure and sexual satisfaction for the happiness and well-being of individuals and couples (Laumann et al., 2006: Nicolosi et al., 2004). The survey asked participants, among other things, questions about the degree to which they found their relationships to be physically pleasurable and how important sex is to their overall happiness. Over three quarters of men (82%) and women (76%) agreed that satisfactory sex is essential to maintain a relationship and the authors concluded from their findings that despite substantial cultural variation in sexual norms and values, subjective sexual well-being was associated with overall happiness in both men and women.

A White Paper published by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA, 2003) in cooperation with the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality extensively catalogues the scientific evidence demonstrating the health benefits of sexual expression. Taken together, the studies cited suggest that partnered sexual activity and/or masturbation can be associated with improved longevity, immunity, pain management, self-esteem and a reduction in stress.

In sum, sexual pleasure helps to cement the primary kinship structure of the couple relationship, contributes to the overall happiness in life of both men and women (whether they are in partnerships or not) and is associated with various aspects of good health. Seen in this way sexual pleasure is not frivolous or unnecessary: it is essential.

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GAY MARRIAGE IN FRANCE AND STATE SECULARITY

Starting from April 4, 2013 the Senate of the French Republic will examine the Draft Law No. 344 “for the opening of marriage to same-sex couples” (http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/projets/pl0344.asp) already approved by the National Assembly.

The Article. 1 of the Draft Law No. 344 provides that the Chapter I of Title V of Book I of the Civil Code is amended as follows: “is inserted at the beginning of this chapter an art. 143 so defined:

“Article 143 – Marriage is contracted by two people of different sexes or of the same sex. ‘”.

The Draft Law also provides analytically all the provisions of the codes to adapt them to the new Article 143. The entire discipline of marriage, according to the provisions of the Draft Law, can be found on the page http://www.mariage-civil.fr/

It should be emphasized that the new Article 143 of the French Civil Code does not create a special legislation for same-sex couples, possibly extending it to unmarried heterosexual couples, but simply extends marriage rights to all, without exceptions depending on the sex of the spouses and extends the adoption rights to homosexual couples on the basis of the same rules that govern the adoption for heterosexual couples. This means that the new art. 143, secularly and strictly, applies the principle of equality of all citizens in front of the law.

The definition of the new art. 143 of the French Civil Code is the result of a long process of secularization of marriage.

Marriage, in France, was the exclusive prerogative of the Church during the Ancien Régime, the final secularization of marriage has been enshrined in Article 7 of the Constitution of 1791 which states that “the law sees marriage as a civil contract.” The decree of 20 to 25 September 1792 sets up the conditions for the formation of marriage, including the celebration in front of the municipal public official. This conception of civil and secular marriage was endorsed by the authors of the Civil Code. The marriage has no definition in the French Civil Code and the Code does not identify any fixed purpose for the marriage, the Code is just about acts of marriage, then, in a separate heading, about conditions, effects, and the dissolution of the marriage.

The idea of ​​opening marriage to same-sex couples has collected progressively greater acceptance since the adoption of the law n° 99-944 of 15 November 1999 on the Civil Solidarity Pact. The majority of French people are now in favor of access to marriage by same-sex couples. It is true that the Civil Solidarity Pact allowed to meet the real aspiration of society and the regime that it provides has been considerably strengthened and made closer to that of marriage, but differences still remain and this legal instrument does not meet the request of the same-sex couples who wish to marry or their request for access to adoption.

France has to take a step further. This is the purpose of the Draft Law. 344, which opens the right to marry to same-sex couples and therefore also opens access to parenting for these people, through the mechanism of adoption.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, said that the opening of marriage to homosexuals “is socially disruptive” and added, “And then, this will have an infinite number of consequences. After that, they can require to marry non only in couple but in three or four. Then, one day perhaps, will fall also the prohibition of incest.”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois judged the marriage between persons of the same sex, “an arrogance that will shake one of the pillars of our society.”

The Protestant Federation of France has ruled against “the false idea of ​​marriage for all” as a matter “not theological but social and anthropological.”

The Grand Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim believes that “the arguments of equality, love, protection or right to a child do not hold up and they cannot justify, they only, a law.”

Olivier-Genh Wang, vice-president of the Union of Buddhists in France, hopes “people to reflect on the consequences that will arise from individualistic and selfish acts.”

(http://www.20minutes.fr/france/1035092-mariage-homosexuel-mgr-vingt-trois-fustige-supercherie)

The French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM) has published an official document which explains the opposition of the Muslim Law Project but precises, secularly, that “the rules and norms of a religion cannot be used to oppose or evade rules and regulations of the State that apply to everyone.” The document also states that Muslims “strongly condemn all homophobic acts.” According to the CFCM “the mission of marriage cannot be reduced to recognize a bond of love”, marriage presupposes “the foundation of a stable family under the direction of the two spouses”.

(http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2012/11/06/01016-20121106ARTFIG00611-mariage-gay-l-opposition-des-musulmans.php)

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HOMOSEXUALITY AND IGNORANCE

The fundamental problem for the concrete realization of the criteria of freedom and equality on which a secular civil society should be establish is represented by ignorance, in consequence of which, instead of concepts based on facts that are not known, preconceptions completely unfounded take place.

In order to know the reality about homosexuality I reproduce below a fundamental document by the World Health Organization (http://new.paho.org/hq/index.php?option … 703&Itemid) where are summarized some points of extreme importance to gay people. This document is the synthesis of very high scientific level of the work of thousands of specialists coming from all over the world. I invite you to see how the contents of this document reflect faithfully what Gay Project has always supported. I think that there is no need to place side by side this document with other well-known documents of confessional origin.

I refer the interested reader to two articles published by Gay Project:

GAY BETWEEN REAL MORAL AND REPARATIVE THERAPY
https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2012/1 … e-therapy/

POPE RATZINGER AND HOMOSEXUALITY
https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/0 … sexuality/
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Pan American Health Organization
Regional Office of the
World Health Organization

“CURES” FOR AN ILLNESS THAT DOES NOT EXIST
Purported therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation lack medical justification and are ethically unacceptable

Introduction

Countless human beings live their lives surrounded by rejection, maltreatment, and violence for being perceived as “different.” Among them, millions are victims of attitudes of mistrust, disdain and hatred because of their sexual orientation. These expressions of homophobia are based on intolerance resulting from blind fanaticism as well as pseudoscientific views that regard non-heterosexual and non-procreative sexual behavior as “deviation” or the result of a “developmental defect.”

Whatever its origins and manifestations, any form of homophobia has negative effects on the affected people, their families and friends, and society at large. There is an abundance of accounts and testimonies of suffering; feelings of guilt and shame; social exclusion; threats and injuries; and persons who have been brutalized and tortured to the point of causing injuries, permanent scars and even death. As a consequence, homphobia represents a public health problem that needs to be addressed energetically.

While every expression of homophobia is regrettable, harms caused by health professionals as a result of ignorance, prejudice, or intolerance are absolutely unacceptable and must be avoided by all means. Not only is it fundamentally important that every person who uses health services be treated with dignity and respect; it is also critical to prevent the application of theories and models that view homosexuality as a “deviation” or a choice that can be modified through “will power” or supposed “therapeutic support”.

In several countries of the Americas, there has been evidence of the continued promotion, through supposed “clinics” or individual “therapists,” of services aimed at “curing” non-heterosexual orientation, an approach known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy.”1 Worryingly, these services are often provided not just outside the sphere of public attention but in a clandestine manner. From the perspective of professional ethics and human rights protected by regional and universal treaties and conventions such as the American Convention on Human Rights and its Additional Protocol (“Protocol of San Salvador”) 2, they represent unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to corresponding sanctions.

Homosexuality as a natural and non-pathological variation

Efforts aimed at changing non-heterosexual sexual orientations lack medical justification since homosexuality cannot be considered a pathological condition.3 There is a professional consensus that homosexuality represents a natural variation of human sexuality without any intrinsically harmful effect on the health of those concerned or those close to them. In none of its individual manifestations does homosexuality constitute a disorder or an illness, and therefore it requires no cure. For this reason homosexuality was removed from the relevant systems of classification of diseases several decades ago.4

The ineffectiveness and harmfulness of “conversion therapies”
Besides the lack of medical indication, there is no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of sexual reorientation efforts. While some persons manage to limit the expression of their sexual orientation in terms of conduct, the orientation itself generally appears as an integral personal characteristic that cannot be changed. At the same time, testimonies abound about harms to mental and physical health resulting from the repression of a person’s sexual orientation. In 2009, the American Psychological Association conducted a review of 83 cases of people who had been subject to “conversion” interventions.5 Not only was it impossible to demonstrate changes in subjects’ sexual orientation, in addition the study found that the intention to change sexual orientation was linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, feelings of guilt and shame, and even suicidal ideation and behaviors. In light of this evidence, suggesting to patients that they suffer from a “defect” and that they ought to change constitutes a violation of the first principle of medical ethics: “first, do no harm.” It affects the right to personal integrity as well as the right to health, especially in its psychological and moral dimensions.

Reported violations of personal integrity and other human rights

As an aggravating factor, “conversion therapies” have to be considered threats to the right to personal autonomy and to personal integrity. There are several testimonies from adolescents who have been subject to “reparative” interventions against their will, many times at their families’ initiative. In some cases, the victims were interned and deprived of their liberty, sometimes to the extent of being kept in isolation during several months. 6 The testimonies provide accounts of degrading treatment, extreme humiliation, physical violence, aversive conditioning through electric shock or emetic substances, and even sexual harassment and attempts of “reparative rape,” especially in the case of lesbian women. Such interventions violate the dignity and human rights of the affected persons, independently of the fact that their “therapeutic” effect is nil or even counterproductive. In these cases, the right to health has not been protected as demanded by the regional and international obligations established through the Protocol of San Salvador and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Conclusion

Health professionals who offer “reparative therapies” align themselves with social prejudices and reflect a stark ignorance in matters of sexuality and sexual health. Contrary to what many people believe or assume, there is no reason – with the exception of the stigma resulting from those very prejudices – why homosexual persons should be unable to enjoy a full and satisfying life. The task of health professionals is to not cause harm and to offer support to patients to alleviate their complaints and problems, not to make these more severe. A therapist who classifies non-heterosexual patients as “deviant” not only offends them but also contributes to the aggravation of their problems. “Reparative” or “conversion therapies” have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.

Recommendations

To governments: 

Homophobic ill-treatment on the part of health professionals or other members of health care teams violates human rights obligations established through universal and regional treaties. Such treatment is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

“Reparative” or “conversion therapies” and the clinics offering them should be reported and subject to adequate sanctions.

Institutions offering such “treatment” at the margin of the health sector should be viewed as infringing the right to health by assuming a role properly pertaining to the health sector and by causing harm to individual and community well-being.7

Victims of homophobic ill-treatment must be treated in accordance with protocols that support them in the recovery of their dignity and self-esteem. This includes providing them treatment for physical and emotional harm and protecting their human rights, especially the right to life, personal integrity, health, and equality before the law.

To academic institutions: 

Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a particular focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons. The participation of the latter in teaching activities contributes to the development of positive role models and to the elimination of common stereotypes about non-heterosexual communities and persons.

The formation of support groups among faculty and within the student community contributes to reducing isolation and promoting solidarity and relationships of friendship and respect between members of these groups.
Better still is the formation of sexual diversity alliances that include heterosexual persons.

Homophobic harassment or maltreatment on the part of members of the faculty or students is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

To professional associations:

Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.

Professional associations should adopt clear and defined positions regarding the protection of human dignity and should define necessary actions for the prevention and control of homophobia as a public health problem that negatively impacts the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

The application of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies” should be considered fraudulent and as violating the basic principles of medical ethics. Individuals or institutions offering these treatments should be subject to adequate sanctions.

To the media:

The representation of non-heterosexual groups, populations, or individuals in the media should be based on personal respect, avoiding stereotypes or humor based on mockery, ill-treatment, or violations of dignity or individual or collective well-being.

Homophobia, in any of its manifestations and expressed by any person, should be exposed as a public health problem and a threat to human dignity and human rights.

The use of positive images of non-heterosexual persons or groups, far from promoting homosexuality (in virtue of the fact that sexual orientation cannot be changed), contributes to creating a more humane and diversity-friendly outlook, dispelling unfounded fears and promoting feelings of solidarity.

Publicity that incites homophobic intolerance should be denounced for contributing to the aggravation of a public health problem and threats to the right to life, particularly as it contributes to chronic emotional suffering, physical violence, and hate crimes.

Advertising by “therapists,” “care centers,” or any other agent offering services aimed at changing sexual orientation should be considered illegal and should be reported to the relevant authorities.

To civil society organizations:

Civil society organizations can develop mechanisms of civil vigilance to detect violations of the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and report them to the relevant authorities. They can also help to identify and report persons and institutions involved in the administration of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies.”

Existing or emerging self-help groups of relatives or friends of non-heterosexual persons can facilitate the connection to health and social services with the goal of protecting the physical and emotional integrity of ill-treated individuals, in addition to reporting abuse and violence.

Fostering respectful daily interactions between persons of different sexual orientations is enriching for everyone and promotes harmonic, constructive, salutary, and peaceful ways of living together.
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1 Human Rights Committee (2008). Concluding Observations on Ecuador(CCPR/C/ECU/CO/5), paragraph 12.
<http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR.C.ECU.CO.5.doc&gt;
Human Rights Council (2011). Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals
Based on Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (A/HRC/19/41), paragraph 56. <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/AHRC-19-41_en.pdf&gt;
Human Rights Council (2011). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health (A/HRC/14/20), paragraph 23.
<http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.20.pdf&gt;
United Nations General Assembly (2001). Note by the Secretary-General on the Question of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (A/56/156), paragraph 24. <http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a56156.pdf&gt;
2 The human rights that can be affected by these practices include, among others, the right to life, to personal integrity, to privacy, to equality before the law, to personal liberty, to health, and to benefit from scientific progress.
3 American Psychiatric Association (2000). Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies):
Position Statement <http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/PositionStatements/200001.aspx&gt;
Anton, B. S. (2010). “Proceedings of the American Psychological Association for the Legislative Year 2009: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives and Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Directors”. American Psychologist, 65, 385–475.
<http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/sexual-orientation.pdf&gt;
Just the Facts Coalition (2008). Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel.
Washington, DC. <http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.html&gt;
4 World Health Organization (1994). International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (10th Revision). Geneva, Switzerland.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(4th ed.,text revision). Washington, DC.
5 APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009). Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC. <http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf&gt;
6 Taller de Comunicación Mujer (2008). Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos: Informe Sombra.
<http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/Informe%20Sombra%202009%20LBT.pdf&gt;
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (2005). Tribunal por los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de las Mujeres.
<http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/TRIBUNAL%20DESC%20ECUADOR%20MUJERES.pdf&gt;
7 See General Comment No. 14 by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights with regards to the obligation to respect, protect and comply with human rights obligations on the part of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

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POPE FRANCIS AND GAY RIGHTS: DOGMA AND FREEDOM

Let me clarify a few things before proceeding with this post. I MET several gay Catholics, with very different attitudes and different ways of viewing their being gay, their being Catholics and their way to reconcile or to try to reconcile the two. I respect and appreciate these people. I recently exchanged emails with a person that I was amazed by its radical, even if painful, consistency with Catholic doctrine. We exchanged a few messages even if from far points of view and I have to say that I consider the dialogue with this person an important opportunity to understand a bit deeper a lot of things. I therefore have no intention to argue with polemic attitudes and less than ever I have the pretension to judge those who in good conscience make their choices.

Given the above I start to explain why I published my preceding post on the new Pope. I tried to get a copy of his book “Sobre el cielo y la tierra”, where he speaks also of homosexuality, but I was not able to find it. I would avoid prejudice, frankly I think that this pope will also be different in some respects from traditional ecclesiastical positions on other issues, especially those related to social justice, because this is to be expected on the basis of his previous work, but nothing at all will be changed in terms of condemnation of homosexuality and opposition to the legal recognition of the rights of gay people. On the other hand the letter that Cardinal Bergoglio wrote is just the tip of the iceberg of the Cardinal Bergoglio’s activity to stop the legal recognition of gay rights. Here no one would dream of making judgments overall, but to free the field from easy optimism, we must take stock of what is to be expected objectively on the relation between Church and gays on the basis of what the current Pope did so when he was not even the Pope.

First of all, everyone is free to think what he wants and to practice what he wants, but the Church does not have the right to “impose or attempt to impose” its moral rules completely based on revelation and on Catholic teaching to not Catholic people, that is, that do not recognize in that faith that Church presents as the base of its authority. Of course, the Church has every right in a free world to consider homosexuality “grave depravity”, “sad consequence of rejecting God,” “lack of normal sexual development”, “pathological constitution”, “behavior intrinsically evil and immoral” and so on.

The Church in past centuries has sent thousands of people at the stake for heresy, witchcraft and homosexuality and it is not surprising that those expressions are still used today to condemn homosexuality, but fortunately for us, the world has moved on and recognized that all have freedom of thought and expression, and then of critics. Consider homosexuality “grave depravity”, “sad consequence of rejecting God,” “lack of normal sexual development”, “pathological constitution”, “intrinsically evil behavior from the moral point of view” or, in the version of the new Pope, an “aggression against the law of God and the natural law” and consider as a “diabolical plan” to grant legal protection to same-sex couples, making undue pressure on the civil power, it means to try to compress the rights of others and to keep homosexuals without any legal protection claiming that the state law have to accord strictly to religious dogmas.

If a Catholic gay feels one seriously depraved, marked by an abnormal sexual development, a pathological case, a person intrinsically evil and immoral, a destroyer of the God’s law, an advocate of Satan (and the gallery of horrors could be extended a lot) he is free to follow what the Church proposes, the choice belongs to him only, but the fact that those expressions and those opinions can be an instrument of pressure to influence the lives of others who have nothing to do with the faith of the Church and to maintain for them an inferior condition, it is something morally unacceptable. The Pope, no matter if the previous, the current or the next, until he will try to impose his morality to those who do not share it putting pressure on civil institutions, cannot have a real respect from those outside the Church, in essence it is an attempt to impose a moral, which is repugnant to the conscience of anyone who considers the respect and freedom of others as a value.

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