Just when we thought that we, as a society, had made good progress in respecting and liberating gays, lo and behold another worm slithers out of the rotten woodwork.

This time it was Iris Robinson, the health spokeswoman for the governing party at Stormont, the northern Ireland government in Belfast.

Mrs. Robinson spoke on a live radio phone-in show after a 27-year-old gay man was beaten up in a homophobic attack near his home and left with horrific injuries.

She described homosexuality as « disgusting, nauseous, loathsome, shamefully wicked and vile » and said her strong Christian upbringing meant she would never change her views and nothing would stop her from speaking out on the issue. (Her husband, Peter Robinson, is Prime Minister of the northern Ireland parliament, a post he shares jointly with Sinn Fein).

Mrs. Robinson then offered to put gay and lesbian people in touch with a psychiatrist who she described as a born-again-Christian who would help them change their sexuality: « He is a Born Again Christian and has links all over the world and I have met people who have been turned around to become heterosexual and who have gone on to get married and raise families.

« Homosexuality is not natural. My Christian beliefs tell me that it is an abomination and that is very clear. »

Do you agree homosexuals can be taught to become heterosexuals?

Do you think Mrs. Robinsons’s views on gays are shared by a significant number in society?

Is there a connection between gay bashing and religious beliefs?



  1. 1
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Do you agree homosexuals can be taught to become heterosexuals? »

    Of course not.

    To a heterosexual who thinks they can teach a gay person to be hetro, I would ask this: Do you think you could be « taught » to be gay?
    They will answer « no » – so why do they think they can teach the opposite?

    « Do you think Mrs. Robinsons’s views on gays are shared by a significant number in society? »

    It depends what you think is significant – but I think the answer is yes. When you have sheep listening to preachers talk about the EVILS of homosexuality it’s bound to sink in to some!

    Nothing like religion to bring out a little intolerance and hatred. What’s that you say? Hate the sin but love the sinner?? Yeah right!!!!

    « Is there a connection between gay bashing and religious beliefs? »

    Yup, there sure is!

    This woman couldn’t keep her religion out of her comments for a reason – her religion is the only reason why she feels this way.

  2. 2

    My thoughts: It’s hard to change minds on an issue like homosexuality. I would make a distinction between those cowards that beat a boy for his sexuality from a person expressing her views on the topic – you may accurately describe both as homophobic, but they are different in that one is a crime, the other an opinion.

    Do we want to make any opinion a crime if we disagree with it? There lies a slippery slope.

    I have a close friend who lives in the US, attends a religious university, believes in God and is homosexual. He does not fear for his safety, but is faced with anti-homosexual thoughts every day. His reaction is to pray for their understanding one day.

    More interesting to me was my friend’s recent conversion to conservatism – believe me when I tell you we never agreed on anything political since we were old enough to start thinking about things. His conversion was caused by events in Europe – Amsterdam to be precise.
    He read an article that noted attacks on gays were increasing at an alarming rate – in the city of ‘anything goes’. What frightened him most is that almost all of the attacks are being committed by Muslim youths, and the authorities are often looking the other way, afraid to face the threat for being called ‘Islamophobic’.

    The Dutch police cannot protect victims of one phobia for fear of another.

    Religion does drive homophobia, I agree with that statement. However, only Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly declared that Iran has NO homosexuals. Of course this is in large part because Iran will execute offenders, so there is no incentive to be an activist for a Tehran Pride parade.

    I only make this case to make it clear that there are more homophobic religions than just Christianity, or Catholicism if you want to be more focused. I often see people pile onto Catholics when asked questions like yours, and it would be nice for a change if ALL the intolerant faiths could be included in the debate.

  3. 3
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « …there are more homophobic religions than just Christianity… »

    Oh no doubt!

    It is definitely NOT just christians who use religion as the excuse to abhor homosexuality. That kind of bigoty is certainly not exclusive to christianity but common among most of the major religions.

  4. 4
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Sexuality is a big part of our lives.
    Homosexuality is and has always been a part of human society.
    That is why I am surprised that there is so little in the way of guidance vis a vis the books of the major religions as to their respective stands on homosexuality.
    Sure, we’ve all familiar with the oft-referenced passage from Leviticus about man lying with another man but, gosh, considering the many hundreds of pages of the Bible, this and any other mentions on the subject represent a very small and insignificant percentage of the entire Bible.
    From what I’ve seen on the internet (and I wish I could supply a link here but every time I do that on this weblog, the weblog’s software refuses to publish my post) this is the rule rather than the exception for ALL the major religions: scant mention of how to handle homosexuality in daily life. Yes, certainly, where there IS mention, it is always frowned upon…but, come on, the guidance should be clear and unambiguous and it’s not.

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Gays are not sick nor are they sexual deviants. If you are not sick nor deviant then you can not be cured. I agree most major religion foster homophobia like they fight masturbation. Remember those concepts were forged when populations were small and isolated and children were a means of survival. Hence the condemnation of Onan. Look it up it’s in the Bible.
    The prohibition of pork goes back to the same era and also for hygienic reasons like the prohibition to share a bed with a woman during her menstrual period. Problem is we did not adapt to modern circumstances.
    Did you know that there is still a law in the books calling for anyone undertaking a motor trip to publish his itinerary a week in advance so that people heading that way can share the ride, farmers can clear cattles off the road and keep children inside?

  6. 6
    Chimera Says:

    I disagree that most major religions are inherently homophobic. Anglican bishop Gene Robinson just married his partner, Mark Andrew. Last time I looked, « Anglican » was linked to one of the major religions — Christianity.

    Homophobia is a disorder of the programmed kind, and it can be deprogrammed. It has nothing to do with religion, except that religious mouthings are cherry-picked as an excuse because, just as DB said, regular folks are hesitant to « call » anyone on their religious beliefs for fear of being tagged as intolerant. Religion in the hands of homophobes is a hammer, and they run around looking for nails.

    It’s time to get rid of the fear of being labelled as intolerant and start holding homophobes to account for their insane behavior. We could start by refusing to accept biblical « authority » for any argument as if it trumps biology.

    [And if homophobes balk at our refusal to accept the bible, get them to answer for the passage in which their god advises a man to force his wife to have an abortion by tricking her into drinking a tisane for which his god supplied the recipe. If you doubt it’s there, go read it for yourself. You’ll find it in Numbers.]

    Homophobia is a mental disorder caused by being emotionally abused as a child. Yes, a psychiartrist might be able to help, but Mrs. Robinson should be the one on the couch.

  7. 7
    dez Says:

    Religious people frighten me in general, but that’s mostly due to their reliance on faith over reason.

    However, I agree that homophobia does not come from religion. Heterosexuals can develop a fear of homosexuality for the same reason Caucasians can develop a fear of other races – Pavlovian conditioning. As such, it can be cured through therapy.

    Homosexuality can no more be « cured » through therapy than pedophilia, or any other sexual orientation. The most you can do is force the individual to resist acting on their natural inclinations.

    Yes, I used the word « natural ». Studies of animals have shown that everything from chimps to earthworms have individuals that differ from the sexual norm for that species. The natural world is full of examples of « unnatural » behavior.

    In fact, human homosexuality may be a natural response to overpopulation. Something built into our genetic code to keep us from making too many babies for our own good. I see this as a good thing.

    In the final analysis, if you don’t like homosexuality, don’t do it. Telling other people how to behave in the privacy of their bedrooms is completely irrational.

  8. 8
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Chimera writes: « It’s time to get rid of the fear of being labelled as intolerant and start holding homophobes to account for their insane behavior. »

    I’m curious to know, specifically, which « insane behaviors » you refer to and how would you hold them to account?

    And please don’t give as examples of « insane behaviors » that must be brought to account things such as « violence to homosexuals » as we already have laws that take care of that.

  9. 9
    Chimera Says:

    Tony, their insane behavior starts with their heavy dependence on « bilblical authority » to explain their insistence that they be allowed to spread their phobic poison to everyone else under the twin guises of freedom of religion and free speech. « Biblical authority » in the absence of, and contrary to, all biological evidence to the contrary.

    It continues with their refusal to accept that people are individuals, each one subject to the vagaries of nature, and that homosexuality is as normal for some people as heterosexuality is for others, and that a combination of the two is normal for still others.

    Phobia is an irrational fear, and learned behavior. The insanity of it is akin to the insistence that a contrived hologram is a solid three-dimensional object.

    Cult behavior such as homophobia is programmed indoctrination that verges on frenzy and hysteria. But there is help for them — they can be deprogrammed.

    Violence is not insane. But the rationale for it…that’s another matter entirely.

  10. 10
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    I like joes comment, to paraphrase, for a heterosexual to be gay is wrong and for a homosexual to be straight is wrong.

    Homosexuality when it is committed to one partner and hetersexuality when it is committed to one partner. is just.
    that doesnt mean that we dont occasionally fail.

    Love and respect in relationships whether sexual or otherwise has great value, we are all part of Gods human family.

  11. 11
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Chimera: thanks for your answer, but you only responded to half of the query.

    Yes, you gave us several examples of which « insane behaviors » you were referring to but didn’t tell us how you would hold homophobes « to account ».

    Unless, of course, your comment that « they can be deprogrammed » is how you would hold homophobes to account for their words. But I certainly can’t imagine anyone giving THAT as an answer. Why? Because to claim that you or society or some committee or some court could « deprogram » someone for saying what they believe — no matter how distasteful you may feel those beliefs and speech expressions to be — would, to me, be a cure that is more dangerous than the disease. Indeed, it reminds me of the frightening Show Trials going on now in British Columbia in which the thought police are prosecuting Mark Steyn.

    Please tell us that’s not what you meant, Chimera, and if it isn’t, be good enough to complete the answer to my question and tell us how you would hold homophobes to account.

  12. 12
    Chimera Says:

    Tony, I actually forgot that you had asked about how I would hold them to account. My apologies.

    How homophobes can be held to account will be an interesting and a frustrating quest. It needs a better answer than what we have available to us today.

    When it comes to their particular phobia, they are mentally unable to differentiate for themselves the difference between truth and fantasy. The big question now becomes: do they know the difference between right and wrong? Like children who still believe in Santa Claus, and who also knows that stealing is wrong, I’m betting they do know the difference…they just think they can get away with it because they’ve been convinced that they can operate freely under freedom of religion and freedom of speech rules. They must learn that causing harm to others is not an option under freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

    If they know the difference between right and wrong, then they can be held legally accountable for any harm they may cause with their phobic actions and reactions. And each case would have to be judged on its own merits. Lawyers, of course, will have a field day. Such is the nature of the society in which we live.

    And yes, deprogramming should be an option. It should be offered to all homophobes as one of the choices available to them. I bet you have an image in your head from those movies back in the seventies about kids being kidnapped away from cults by their parents and then tied to beds in dank little rooms and yelled at until they are too exhausted to resist their reintegration with their families. Not a very palatable picture, that. It was what they had to work with at the time. These days, deprogramming is lots more civil. Anger management is a form of deprogramming. And deprogrammers are now called « counsellors. »

  13. 13
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Chimera, from what you write in response to my query, I conclude the following:

    According to you, anyone publicly expressing homophobic opinions — which is not promoting either violence or discrimination against homosexuals, it must be noted — must be subject to the scrutiny of authorities over whether they:

    1) know the difference between right and wrong;

    2) whether their words have caused « harm » to anyone (and « harm » is not defined by you as physical harm, so I must assume you mean harm in its politically correct form, which is virtually anything the authorities decide it is, including emotional and mental « harm » and hurt feelings)

    3) be subject to deprogramming.

    4) all of the above to be codified into law and dealt with by authorities, be it a committee or court.

    I kind of suspected that this is what you had in mind for those
    expressing their free speech. And using the example that initiated this whole conversation — Neil’s relating to us the incident involving Iris Robinson of Northern Ireland who only expressed an opinion and neither advocated nor committed violence against anyone — you would have Ms. Robinson subjected to all sorts of forced inquisitions and legal procedures that I can only conclude would send her entire life and family into a quagmire.

    I call that repression of freedom, free thought, fear-mongering, and totalitarianism.

    What do you call it?

  14. 14
    Chimera Says:

    Tony, you didn’t read what I wrote. Try again? This time, read word-for-word in plain English, without trying to paraphrase. Leave nothing out, but also do not try to read « between the lines » for what you do not see. If you don’t see it, it’s not there.

  15. 15
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    What part of « They must learn that causing harm to others is not an option under freedom of religion and freedom of speech » and « and yes, deprogramming should be an option » did I not understand?

    If I am misinterpreting you, Chimera, after I have backed up my conclusions about what you’re trying to say by quoting you, please don’t ask me to reread what you’ve written; instead rebut your own words or show me where I am wrong.

  16. 16
    Chimera Says:

    You forgot already that I said « leave nothing out » and « don’t paraphrase. »

    Was the line, « …each case would have to be judged on its own merits, » invisible to you?

  17. 17
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Show trials, committees and courts all treat each case that comes before them on their own merits.

    My point is that in your zeal to impose your political correctness upon those you disagree with, that you would force them to appear before some sort of tribunal in the first place.

  18. 18
    Chimera Says:

    You owe me for for the cost of cleaning the sticky from my keyboard. I just snorted coffee through my nose at your assertion that I possess any political correctness.

    If you want to pick a fight, try picking one that you’re not going to lose by default through making the wrong assumptions in the first place.

  19. 19
    Cornelius T. Zen Says:

    Good morrow, all!
    The religious right have it on « good authority » that « God hates gays. » They cite the rain of fire and boulders on Sodom and Gomorrah as « proof. » Follow if you will…
    Hate is the child of anger. Anger is the child of fear. Fear is the anticipation of pain, or threat to survival or security. Those who hate have yet to ask themselves: Why do I fear gays/Jews/blacks/Catholics/Protestants/Muslims/Hindus/Sikhs/Sunni/Shi’ite/anybody at all? What threat do these people represent? How exactly will they hurt me, that I should hate them?
    To say that « God hates gays » is to say that « God fears gays. » Imagine: You are an omnipotent (all-powerful) omniscient (all-knowing) ominipresent (all-encompassing) and some say, omnibenevolent (all-loving) Being…and You fear, and subsequently hate, some of Your children, because they are different from some of Your other children. Have issues, do We?
    With great power, comes great responsibility (thank you, Stan Lee) With absolute power, comes absolute responsibility. In other words, what kind of example is God setting for ALL His children, if God « hates gays » ?
    I, for one, will bend no knee to any Deity who is no improvement upon myself. Nor will I stand by while people who worship such a Deity wrap themselves in a cloak of righteousness and piety, and pronounce their fellow human beings to be anything less or other than human. If I recall correctly, those hypocrites (hello, Senator Larry Craig) were the very people that Jesus denounced, with all his vigour, in His Ministry.
    Either God made all of us, and loves all of us…or He made none of us, and loves nobody at all. Good night, and may your God go with you.

  20. 20
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Well, Chimera, your only response to my last post is my depiction of you as politically correct…and that’s a subjective call on my part. Fine.

    But you didn’t object to my assessment that you still want to drag those whose opinion you disagree with before some sort of tribunal. So I have to assume I am correct on that point.

    That’s the scary part.

  21. 21

    My suggestion is that we now bring this lively discussion to a conclusion.

    Many thanks. Neil

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