MANUAL OF HOMOSEXUALITY

Gay Project has just published in Italian a “Manual of homosexuality”: http://gayproject.altervista.org/manuale_di_omosessualita.pdf, that is a guide to know and understand the real problems of gay guys. The manual has 22 chapters. I present here the first chapter in English, in the coming weeks I will publish the next chapters.

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CHAPTER 1 – UNDERSTANDING TO BE GAY

Let’s start with a concrete example.

A boy 12 year old (seventh grade) experiences for the first time the spontaneous swelling up of his penis (erection) while he is in the locker room along with his mates and while concentrating his attention on one of them who is undressing. The experience is pleasant, the guy comes home, sits back to think about his mate, goes quickly erect, the feeling is newly nice, the guy starts a long manipulation of his penis (masturbation) at the end of which he feels a strong contraction of the testes (orgasm) that makes a white substance (semen) squirts up from his penis (ejaculation), immediately after the guy experiences a strong feeling of relaxation, as if all the tension caused by sexual arousal had been discharged (post-orgasmic phase). Throughout all this procedure, the imagination is concentrated on the image of the mate undressing in the locker room (masturbatory fantasy).

Let us now analyze this example. It is the discovery of masturbation, that is the first real sexual experience. In this experience, there are two different components linked together, the physical one (erection, masturbation, orgasm, ejaculation, post-orgasmic phase) and the imaginative one (masturbatory fantasy).

It is usual to call masturbation also the whole physical-imaginative process we have just described. During masturbation the guy brings to mind the images that had caused the erection spontaneously, because focusing on those images (masturbatory fantasies) he can easily get an erection (sexual arousal through masturbation fantasies) and the erection is more vigorous and all the process of masturbation is strongly addictive. If the masturbatory fantasies of a guy are directed towards other guys  we use to say that masturbation is gay oriented, if masturbatory fantasies are directed towards girls we use to say that masturbation is hetero oriented. When the masturbatory fantasies are really spontaneous, they represent the fundamental indicator of sexual orientation: a guy who masturbates in an exclusive and consistent way with gay fantasies is to be considered a gay guy.

Now we go further with exemplification.

The same guy that we talked about before, listening to his mates about masturbation becomes aware that they experience something similar to his own experience in the physical aspect but different with regard to the masturbatory fantasies, and realizes that his mates, during masturbation, don’t focus attention on other guys but on girls. Back home, the guy tries to masturbate focusing on a girl, that is, using the same masturbatory fantasies used by his mates, but those fantasies do not produce results and are on the contrary experienced as something alien and not really exciting. The guy then comes back to masturbation fantasies focused on his mates and the physical response is rapid and convincing.

Let’s analyze the example.

This is the first perception, by a gay guy, of the fact that his sexuality is not similar to that of other guys. The thing in itself would not cause any problem, but the guy, speaking with his mates, becomes aware, with a growing awareness, that his sexuality is considered by his mates as an object of ridicule and as something quite offensive to joke about and begins to connect to his sexual orientation words like gay, fag, queer, fagot and so on, that people use as an insult. This way the guy perceives for the first time the discomfort of being gay, which is not caused by the fact of having a sexuality different from that of the other guys but by the contempt shown by other guys.

But let us proceed with the examples.

The guy that we talked about in the previous examples starts to feel the presence of the guy who is the object of his masturbatory fantasies as something very pleasant, he is happy while being beside that guy, talks to him for as long as possible, appreciates his voice, his physical presence and smile and tends to create a relationship with him. At first that relationship seems to have the typical characteristics of friendship but really differs from friendship because that guy is also the subject of masturbatory fantasies.

All the process described above represents a typical gay love affair, in which there are two components: one affective, which consists in creating a relationship of proximity and affection with the other guy, and the other strictly sexual, which consists in being sexually involved by the other guy assuming him as object of masturbatory fantasies.

For the other guys, who leave similar experiences, but oriented towards girls, the natural outcome of being in love is the declaration of love to the girl they love, that statement is usually taken by the girls like something  however flattering. The gay guy understands on the contrary that, for him, declaring his love for another guy carries the risk of being identified as gay and thus being branded with offensive epithets by his mates and also by the guy he is in love with. In essence, the gay guy realizes that he’s a gay guy in a group of guys who have a different sexual orientation and concludes instinctively, that not to be labeled as gay by his mates, he has to pretend to be straight.

So far we have presented a very simple model of getting aware of being gay applied to a 12 year old gay. In reality, this scheme can be complicated by many disruptive factors. Let us therefore examine the most important factors that interfere with the awareness of homosexuality. Consider an example.

A guy 11/12 year old is involved in sexual games with a girl slightly older than him, his first erections are not really spontaneous but are induced by the interplay of sexual manipulation by the girl, which is especially rewarding because allows the preadolescent to perceive himself like a man. The guy will repeat on his own the handling of the penis and will arrive at the discovery of masturbation and, at least apparently, his masturbatory fantasies will be oriented toward girls, but in this case during the masturbation the spontaneous sexuality cannot emerge just because the first erections are not spontaneous but are induced by a girl through explicit sexual advances (the manipulation of the penis or the intimate caresses). The sexual imprinting , that is the first real sexual or para-sexual experience, in this case, has been experienced by the guy “in a straight atmosphere” due to external elements (the girl) and thus was not the result of the sexual spontaneity of the guy, but nevertheless such sexual experiences are not superficial. The hetero imprinting can induce quite easily masturbation fantasies related to the imprinting, i.e. hetero fantasies, rather than to spontaneous sexuality. Following an hetero imprinting, even a guy who, if he could spontaneously develop his own sexuality, would manifest a gay sexuality, can present  a straight masturbation for years. Gay guys sooner or later come certainly out of the constraints that derive from the hetero imprinting because in the long time spontaneous sexuality comes always afloat.

Much more complicated and problematic is the situation of guys who have been subjected to violence or sexual abuse. I would simply point out that sexual abuse can leave on anyone who has suffered it very heavy consequences, particularly if it was committed with physical or psychological violence or by a close family member.

Let us consider now much more common disturbing elements that can interfere with the process of getting aware of being gay. We start here with an example.

An 8 year old guy is part of a larger group of friends and hears them speak with great interest about pornography on the Internet. For him, 8 years old, genital sexuality is still something to come, but he is induced by what he heard to go and see what it is. In this way, the guy discovers pornography, which means, in the vast majority of cases, heterosexual pornography, before having sexual maturity to understand the real meaning of sexuality. In this way, the guy gets a form of pre-orientation toward sexuality almost always towards heterosexuality, which tends to stabilize the guy because using pornography he feels integrated with the group of older guys. Over the years the tendency to imitate the sexuality of the older guys leads that guy to the discovery of masturbation that takes place in a straight atmosphere and therefore manifests a heterosexual orientation. This not spontaneous hetero orientation, precisely induced by the described mechanism, just because it is not spontaneous, may not coincide with the deep sexual orientation and therefore, also in this case a young guy with an exclusive hetero masturbation may be, with the passing of time, having to deal with the subsequent emergence of a spontaneous gay sexuality.

We come now to another important point, namely the education that a guy receives about sexuality, and as usual we consider a concrete case.

A guy has been accustomed from childhood to attend Catholic circles, typically the parish. In that environment he feels comfortable, the family has confidence in the priests and is happy that the child attends that environment because even the parents grew up in that environment and feel it as safe and suitable for the growth of the child. Gradually, from childhood on, that guy has assimilated the values ​​typical of a Catholic environment that are related to the idea of ​​family (father, mother and children), seen as the center of the life of an individual. This model does not create any problem to the guy before his first contact with sex life and indeed is regarded as quite natural because, before discovering sexuality, a guy identifies himself only in the role of child and not in a possible role of father. But there are also other things to take in account, a guy, before discovering sexuality considers as natural the idea that sexuality, which he still does not know concretely, is aimed exclusively to the procreation and that any other use of sexuality is wrong. When the guy discovers masturbation and the horizon of real sexuality, he is brought automatically to suppress the new feelings and to feel guilty about the fact of not being able to do without what he believes to be absolutely to avoid. Up to this point the conditioning of sexuality operated by the religion is practically the same for both gay and straight guys, but for gay guys there are also other problems. In religious circles in general people tend to take for granted that all the guys are heterosexual and the existence of homosexuality is considered as a manifestation of disease and sin. The priests who care for older kids only talk about relationships between guys and girls and these behaviors lead gay guys to stay as far as possible away from homosexuality, considered like a very serious sin but avoidable. Let us pause to reflect on the situation we have just described.

The Catholic Church considers heterosexuality as the only natural form of sexuality and considers homosexuality as a pathological tendency, something against nature, which must be repressed. The Church considers a grave sin every homosexual act, that is, all forms of sexuality shared with someone of the same sex and also considers masturbation a grave sin. The World Health Organization has recognized for several decades homosexuality as a “normal ” (i.e. non-pathological) variant of the human sexuality and homosexuals has been recognized in many states the right to join together to form a family, a family formed by same-sex partners,  in some states, it is also granted to homosexual couples the right to adopt children exactly as it is granted to heterosexual couples. The same World Health Organization has explicitly acknowledged the value of masturbation not only as a fundamental element for the formation of sexuality in adolescence but as a positive element that produces pleasure, accompanies the entire sexual life of an individual and also involves married man and women, who clearly have also a sexual life as a couple. The World Health Organization has included education to masturbation as part of sex therapy aimed at the well-being of the person as an individual and as part of a couple.

The teachings of the Catholic Church in matters related to sexuality and especially homosexuality and masturbation, are not only not universally shared but are completely incompatible with what the scientific community says about the same subjects.

Sexuality education in accordance with the dictates of the Catholic Church or other religious groups with similar attitudes, promotes feelings of guilt and leads to the repression of sexuality and especially homosexuality, which is seen only in the dimension of sin and not as a natural and spontaneous behavior.

What are the consequences of all this for a homosexual guy? The guy tries to force himself toward heterosexuality and considers homosexuality as a vice to be eradicated, seeks to create a relationship with a girl that can reassure him by giving him the illusion that his homosexuality will disappear if he will be able to resist temptation particularly avoiding masturbation, so in fact the feeling towards a girl will grow “pure” that is not tainted by sex. In repressing masturbation, which would inevitably be gay oriented, and in building a relationship with a girl chastely, that is, without any trace of sexuality, the guy sees a merit, a victory over himself and the sign that his “heterosexuality” is true love and not vice because it is not contaminated by masturbation. In fact the apparent “pure” falling in love with a girl is not really falling in love because is missing entirely any sexual involvement. That apparent falling in love allows the guy to pretend to be straight, relegating homosexuality to the rank of marginal vice that will pass easily, over the years, when he will go to the wedding. It is in essence a problem of removal of homosexuality that is denied and minimized. In some cases, starting with these concepts, when the first attempts to couple sexuality with a girl are successful, the guy can get easily even at the wedding.

The expression “sexual imprinting”, in the strict sense, is used to denote the first sexual or para-sexual experience (nudity, physical contact) that induces, through sexual arousal, the initial orientation of masturbation towards guys or girls. It is quite common to speak of sexual imprinting also about the discovery of pornography and even about the educational pressures. While the discovery of pornography, particularly if very early, can effectively determine the initial orientation of masturbation, and therefore can constitute a real sexual imprinting, the educational pressures act mainly through deterrence. In general, the removal of homosexuality as a result of education does not lead a gay guy to hetero masturbation but to abstinence from masturbation, in this case we can speak of sexual imprinting only in very general terms.

Here it should be clarified that as a guy who lives a straight imprinting can masturbate, for a period of time at least, with heterosexual fantasies, even if he is not straight, so a gay guy, in situations of particular emotional involvement, can have a sexual intercourse with a woman. It should be borne in mind that the true sexual orientation is the “spontaneous” sexual orientation of a person, therefore a guy is gay if, without any conditioning, his sexuality is focused on guys, and similarly a guy is straight if, without any conditioning, his sexuality is focused on girls, but that does not mean that a gay guy, that is a guy who, without any conditioning, focuses his sexuality on guys , cannot, under specific conditions, i.e. with strong constraints, respond to heterosexual stimulation. Similarly, a straight guy, who is spontaneously led to a hetero sexuality, in some particular situations, may also respond to homosexual stimulation. It is precisely for this reason that, in the presence of strong environmental constraints, when the orientation of masturbation does not coincide with that of couple sexuality, the true sexual orientation is what emerges from masturbation because during masturbation the weight of the constraints is enormously less and there  is no expectation to satisfy on the part of the partner. The fantasies that accompany masturbation are, for these very reasons, the fundamental index of sexual orientation.

It should be noted that, given that 92% of the population is composed of heterosexuals, environmental pressures that push toward heterosexuality are very strong, while those that push towards homosexuality are virtually nil. That’s why there are many gays who have problems, even for long periods, about their being gay, while it is very rare to find a straight guy who has problems about is being hetero.

About 30% of the guys who end up recognizing themselves exclusively gay have had before periods in which they considered themselves to be heterosexuals and some of them, and not a few, also had sex with a girl and also with more than just one. Those guys are not heterosexuals who have become homosexuals but they are homosexuals who have been induced to pretend to be heterosexuals by environmental pressures or by an education for nothing respectful of sexual spontaneity and typically have lived long and troubled periods of uncertainty about their sexual orientation. It is significant that most of these guys, even when they have a girlfriend and have sex with girls, continues to practice masturbation with gay fantasies.

Let us now deal with elements that can appear but are not indicators of sexual orientation. Let’s consider an example.

A 11 year old guy goes for swimming and compares his penis with that of his peers. In this case it is true that there is an interest in the penis of other guys but it should be clear that for the guy this is only an element of comparison for assessing his own sexual maturation in relation to that of other guys, the same is true when considering physical development, height or strength in relation to the similar characteristics of other guys. All this has nothing to do with homosexuality.

Let’s move on to another situation which is incorrectly related to sexual orientation or gender identity, that is the feeling of being a man or woman. A child about 5 or 6 year old sometimes puts on mum’s shoes, plays with dolls with girls and not at soldiers with his male mates, is at ease with the girls better than with his male mates, does not like to play football and so on.

Such situations are not indicators of sexual orientation or gender identity (feeling of being male or female) but can sometimes express forms of discomfort to integrate into the peer group, often caused by a very rigid education or simply by shyness. Adults should avoid to negatively emphasize these behaviors with attitudes amazed or worried that can really cause insecurities that are likely to remain unexpressed and unresolved.

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GAY MARRIAGE: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE FRENCH REPUBLIC

This post is aimed at comparing two different opinions about homosexual marriage, the first one emerging from an inter-religious conversation between Jorge Mario Bergoglio  then-archbishop of Buenos Aires (now pope Francis), and rabbi Skorka, and also from an interview with Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba, secretary of the Columbian episcopal conference, and the other coming from the legislative solutions definitively adopted, on April 23, 2013, by the French National Assembly.

The comments in square brackets used inside quotations are by the author of this post.

Bergoglio and Homosexuality

On March 13, 2013, the day of the election of Pope Bergoglio, GayProject published a letter addressed by Cardinal Bergoglio to the Buenos Aires Carmelite nuns in 2010, when the same-sex marriage law was going to be approved in Argentina. https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/pope-bergoglio-and-homosexuals/ .

In 2010 a book by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka, titled “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” was published by Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires.

This book is a compilation of the conversations between the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis and Abraham Skorka, rabbi and rector of the Latin-American Rabbinic Seminary in Buenos Aires. The inter-religious conversations are about different topics, such as God, fundamentalism, atheists, death, holocaust, homosexuality and capitalism and took place alternatively in the bishop seat and in the Jewish community Benei Tivka.

In the sixteenth chapter, “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” deals with “marriage between people of the same sex”. So rabbi Skorka opens the conversation: “In my opinion, same-sex marriage has been considered in a very partial manner, compared to the depth that the topic deserves. Cohabiting same-sex couples are matter of fact and are entitled to legal solutions to problems such as pensions, inheritance etc.. (which may be part of a new juridical figure), but equating homosexual couples to heterosexual ones is something totally different. It’s not just a belief question, but we must be aware that this problem concerns one of the most delicate elements our culture is based on.”

Bergoglio replies: “Religion, being at the service of the people, in entitled to express its opinion. And if somebody asks me for advice, I have the right to give it to him. Sometimes the religious minister calls attention to certain points of the private or public life because he is the mentor of the faithful.” Up to this point we can find the usual reaffirmation of the duties and  obviously also of  the consequential rights that religions are entitled to claim, nevertheless Bergoglio introduces a new element pointing out what “is not for religious minister, as he doesn’t have the right to interfere with anybody’s private life, and that’s for sure. If, during the Creation, God faced the risk of making us free, who am I to interfere? We condemn the redundancy of spiritual influence, which occurs when a minister imposes the guideline, the behaviour to follow, depriving people of freedom”. These statements, however, are not intended for possible approval of choices different from those suggested (not imposed) by the church because Bergoglio is quick to point out that “God let us free even to commit a sin. Talking clearly about values, limits, commandments is something absolutely necessary, of course, but spiritual or pastoral interference is not allowed”.

Skorka reminds that in Judaism there are some currents in which prescriptive approaches prevail, but he underlines that in Jewish Law there’s no place for homosexuality, and he adds: “On the other hand, I respect any individual who maintains a reserved and intimate approach to the theme”, then he refers to the Argentinian law of 2010 about civil marriage between same-sex people and access to adoptions by same-sex couples; he reminds the worth that scientists like Freud or Lévi-Strauss attribute to the prohibition of incestuous relationships and to sexual ethic, and he admits to be worried about the consequences for society that laws like that approved in Argentina in 2010 can produce.

Bergoglio considers the Argentinian law approved in 2010 as an “anthropological regression”, since it weakens “an institution millennia old, created in accordance with nature and anthropology”; this way the rejection of homosexual unions considered as equivalent to marriage loses the quality of religious precept, in the name of which church is not allowed to deprive anybody of his freedom, and  assumes the meaning of safeguard of the natural law in opposition to anything unnatural, and also of safeguard of a principle of anthropology, which affirms that heterosexuality is an intrinsic characteristic of the man as such.

Bergoglio then states something apparently open-minded: “Fifty years ago, co-living before marriage was not as common as nowadays. It was something degrading. Then things changed. Today, co-living before marriage, although it’s not right from a religious point of view, does not have any more the extremely negative social weight it had fifty years ago. It’s a sociological fact that clearly is not comparable to the completeness and  greatness of marriage, an institution millennia old that has to be defended. […] We too consider very important what you have just highlighted, that is the base of the Natural Law mentioned by the Bible: the union between a man and a woman”. Shorly, Bergoglio underlines that Bible recognizes the “real” Nature Law, which is identified, in sexual matter, as heterosexuality.

Bergoglio continues: “homosexuality has always existed. The island of Lesbos, for example, was well known for having homosexual women. But it had never happened in history that somebody tried to give it the same status as marriage. It was tolerated or not tolerated, it was appreciated or not appreciated, but never considered equal.” Bergoglio doesn’t even conceive that homosexuality can be considered equated with heterosexuality, because he said it doesn’t embody the Natural Law (strange concept of nature!).

Bergoglio continues with a statement: “We know that during some epochal evolutions the phenomenon of homosexuality sensibly increased”. Actually, in those periods of changing the repressive power of some institutions like Catholic Church weakened, that’s why homosexuality became more visible.

Bergoglio adds: “But in our age, it is the first time we face the problem of assimilating it to marriage, and I consider this as a bad value and an anthropological regression”.

Immediately after, Bergoglio presents the most convincing argument, according to him,: “A private union doesn’t hurt anybody nor the society. Instead, if this union is considered under the category of marriage and the right of adoption is allowed, there is the risk of damaging children. Each individual needs a male father and a female mother who help him shaping his own identity”. The idea of homo-parenthood as something dangerous is taken for granted, though many serious studies about the issue have demonstrated that those are only prejudices.

Bergoglio adds: “I insist: our opinion on marriage of same-sex people does not have a religious basis but anthropological”, and for this reason the limitation of the sphere of the individual freedom would be justified as well as the non-equalization of homosexuals with heterosexuals.

Bergoglio reminds that, for the first time after 18 years of being bishop, he had to draw the attention of a public officer when the major of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, refused to appeal against a first grade judgement that had authorized a homosexual marriage. But Bergoglio points out, twice, that he never talked about homosexuals or used derogatory terms against homosexuals and remarks that he confined himself to the legal issue.

Skorka then widens the subject on the natural law and he reminds that “in the discussion before the approval of the law, somebody invoked the “natural law” thanks to which Nature has in itself the rule leading the human behaviour. So, God himself infused this rule in the Creation. Now, a homosexual may rightly object it was God or Nature that made him that way. On the other hand, somebody declared that love between homosexual people has a multiple nature, because female love and male love co-exist together, although this does not implies a suitable condition to create a family”. These last statements of the rabbi, related to a generic “somebody”, are in fact quite curious.

Skorka introduces the question of the parental figures in the educative field and Bergoglio answers that “generally, people say that it would be better for a kid to be grown by a same-sex couple rather than living in an orphanage or in an institute for minors. Of course, neither of these situations is optimal”.

Bergoglio searches for a different solution which could allow to avoid adoption by same-sex couples. He states that “the problem is that the State does not do what it should, […] We have to consider the situations od children who live in public structures or institutes where everything is done but recover those children. NGOs, the different religious confessions or other kinds of organisations should take care of those minors”, but Bergoglio concludes: “a mistake from the State’s side [the excess of bureaucracy and corruption] does not justify another mistake by the same State [the legitimation of adoptions for same-sex couples]”. In this sense, if regulations and procedures for the adoptions were speeded up and bureaucratic rules “whose actual application encourages corruption” were eliminated, there would be no justification for adoptions by same-sex couples.

Skorka goes on quoting Bible and Maimonides, looking for images that compare the relationship between God and men to the matrimonial relationship between a man and a woman, then he concludes: “A homosexual person loves somebody he knows, a fellow. It is easy for a man to know another man, on the contrary it is much more difficult to know a woman, because he needs to decode her. A man perfectly knows what another man feels, and a woman perfectly knows what happens in the body and in the mind of another woman. Discovering the other sex, instead, is a true challenge”.

Bergoglio ends up this way: “Usually, in the homily for a marriage I tell the groom he must make her more woman, and I tell the bride she must make him more man”.

Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba and the adoptions by homosexual people

Here below you can read, translated into English, an article appeared on the Columbian newspaper “El Tiempo”. The article is titled: “Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba thinks that entrusting two boys to a homosexual man was a mistake”. http://m.eltiempo.com/gente/iglesia-rechaza-adopcin-de-homosexuales/10913132

The secretary of the [Columbian] Episcopal Conference, Juan Vicente Còrdoba, a professional psychologist, questioned the adoption of two little brothers authorized by the Columbian Institute for Family Wellness (ICBF) to an American homosexual man. It’s the case of the journalist Chandler Burr, who has taken back with him the two brothers after a long dispute, consequent to the fact that the adoption had been suspended when his sexual orientation was known.

What do you think about this case?

“I don’t want to judge that man or the ICBF, and I imagine there was a good intention behind. But what kind of investigation was carried out on the personality of the future dad? You have to be sure the adopters are a couple, a man and a woman, or a single man or a single woman with a stable psychology, if you want to entrust a child to somebody”.

Is homosexuality a psychological problem?

“It is not an illness, but a gender identity disease, about the identification of the gender. This is what universal psychiatry says”. [Homosexuality objectively has nothing to do with diseases or with gender identity problems, as World Health Organization confirmed many times.]

What do you know about Chandler Burr?

“I don’t know him and I’m not accusing him of anything, but one thing is clear: he has a homosexual tendency and a ten-year old boy and a thirteen-year old boy will be entrusted to him, among them there is a father-son relationship, they entrust him two boys of an age in which they can be attractive for him and so they can be a temptation”.

Do the children risk something?

“One says: why not giving him two girls? Why right two boys to a homosexual man? He wouldn’t feel any attraction towards two girls, if heterosexual fathers abuse of their daughters and even of their sons, then there’s more to worry about a homosexual man. It would have been better to give the children a father and a mother”.

So a homosexual man can’t house an orphan?

“He can, but he has to be a person with an internalized ability of controlling his tendency, his drives, his passions. It’s very hard not to fall in temptation if somebody has diabetes and he lives in a candy shop”.

What is you proposal?

“I believe that things have been made in a hurry, but it is possible to invert the trial as there was a fundamental fact nobody knew. Thus, revising the trial and bringing it back to a previous phase is something absolutely necessary. It will be very difficult for this man to be impartial and give a pure and transparent affection. Colombia cannot supply its citizens to another country like if they were just goods”.

The Prosecutor’s office investigates Chandler Burr’s couple life. The control authority expressed a negative opinion on Burr’s case, “especially about the psychological valuation test, according to which there are some evident inconsistencies about the existence of relationships with same-sex people”.

The control authority confirmed its request to ICBF for obtaining the revision of the adoption requests by mono-parental families or singles and announced that the case will be followed and this proceeding of adoption will be contested.

The choices of the French Republic

On March 24, 2013, Gay Project published an article: GAY MARRIAGE IN FRANCE AND STATE SECULARITY

https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/gay-marriage-in-france-and-state-secularity/

The French law has finally closed the phase of the double track: marriage only for heterosexuals and other forms of cohabitation also for homosexuals. Without giving any “definition of marriage” was adopted simply a new text of art. 143 of the Civil Code which now reads:

“Art 143 – Marriage is contracted by two persons of different or of the same sex.”

All contrary provisions must therefore be considered amended accordingly. So the secular France has honoured the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.

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GAYS FROM PREJUDICE TO HUMAN RIGHTS

In June 2012, a Polish priest Dariusz Oko, a professor at the Pontifical University of John Paul II Krakow, published on the Polish magazine, Frond, and soon on the German theological journal Theologisches an article entitled: “With the Pope against homo-heresy” where he claimed that homosexuality within the Church gave birth to a mafia that generates a real homo-heresy.

In September 2012, Msgr. Tony Anatrella, consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health, has published (in Italian by Edizioni San Paolo), his latest book, “The theory of gender and the origin of homosexuality”. Recently has been released the book “Homosexuality and the Church’s Magisterium” (Sugarco Editions, 2013), with a foreword by Msgr. Anatrella.

I tried to go a bit deeper. According to Msgr. Anatrella, the UN, the European Union and the World Health Organization are slaves to the gay lobbies and only the Catholic Church can save us from the hidden power of these lobbies, Anatrella adds “You have to read the Bible and then Saint Paul who describes the dire consequences of a society that promotes homosexuality”.

I wonder, just because I’m gay and I live in the midst of gay people, what does Msgr. Anatrella know about homosexuality if, to understand what it is, he prefers to go to St. Paul. I also wonder why the Catholic “lobby” tries to substantiate its thesis by paradoxical statements, repudiated by all the major international scientific circles.

On the other hand, on 24 July 1992 the document “Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on non-discrimination of homosexual persons” states that ” Including “homosexual orientation” among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights… This is all the more deleterious since there is no right to homo- sexuality which therefore should not form the basis for judicial claims. The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”

Another important document “Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons”, 3 June 2003, states that:” Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions … discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil. In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.”

It is well known the speech of the Archbishop Tommasi at the General Debate of the United Nations human rights area in March 2011 (here you can read the speech in English http://cittademocratica.blogspot.it/2011/04/il-vaticano-e-lomofobia.html) which argues that there would be no need for an explicit assertion of a right to homosexuality because sexual orientation, according to the letter of the Vienna Convention, seems to be defined in terms of thought and not of behavior. The sphere of freedom of thought is already protected and therefore there would be no need to reaffirm specific gay rights, but Tommasi adds that homosexual behavior should instead be governed by the law because the law already deals with some behavior such as pedophilia. This reasoning is the very negation of the logic of human rights and insinuates intolerable combinations between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Ecclesiastical interventions aimed at devaluing the major international organizations, replicate in various ways, from the dramatic to the most subtle, the idea that there should not be any international recognition of gay rights. But against such positions comes clearly the United Nations Secretary-General:
“To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say: You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle. Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold. Today, I stand with you and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too” Ban Ki-moon, March 2012.

In March 2012 The United Nations has issued a key document for the rights of homosexuals, entitled “BORN FREE AND EQUAL – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Human Rights Law”
http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/BornFreeAndEqualLowRes.pdf
The document is a hymn to freedom. Following are the five points that the UN identifies as targets of government action in the field of LGBT human rights.

1. Protect people from homophobic and transphobic violence. Include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics in hate crime laws. Establish effective systems to record and report hate-motivated acts of violence. Ensure effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and redress for victims of such violence. Asylum laws and policies should recognize that persecution on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity may be a valid basis for an asylum claim.

2. Prevent the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of LGBT persons in detention by prohibiting and punishing such acts and ensuring that victims are provided with redress. Investigate all acts of mistreatment by State agents and bring those responsible to justice. Provide appropriate training to law enforcement officers and ensure effective monitoring of places of detention.

3. Repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, including all laws that prohibit private sexual conduct between consenting adults of the same sex. Ensure that individuals are not arrested or detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and are not subjected to baseless and degrading physical examinations intended to determine their sexual orientation.

4. Prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Enact comprehensive laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination. In particular, ensure non-discriminatory access to basic services, including in the context of employment and health care. Provide education and training to prevent discrimination and stigmatization of LGBT and intersex people.

5. Safeguard freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly for LGBT and intersex people. Any limitations on these rights must be compatible with international law and must not be discriminatory. Protect individuals who exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and freedom of assembly from acts of violence and intimidation by private parties.

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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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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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