To be gay is perfectly natural
Farrukh Dhondy / DNA
Thursday, July 9, 2009 20:40 IST
Mumbai: Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has a mixed-up sort of name, like some fiction hero seeking to reconcile religions called Robert Rahim Ram or Amar Akbar Anthony. If he was just Dr Nazir-Ali, he could pass as the leader of some Islamist cult in, say, Lebanon. He is not. He is, a little befuddlingly if you grasp the world through stereotypes, the Church of England's Bishop of Rochester. He was even tipped, before the last appointment was made, to be Archbishop of Canterbury.
He was born a Catholic in Pakistan, 'converted' to Anglicanism and rose in the Ministry through, his friends say, his powerful intellect and unerring faith. I can't judge the strength of his faith, but a statement he made last week puts in slight doubt the modern status of his intellect. After a big Gay Pride event in the UK, he famously said: "The Bible's teaching shows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the way to express our sexual nature. We welcome homosexuals, we don't want to exclude people, but want them to repent and be changed."
One knows what he means by 'change', but it is only in the context of his orthodoxy that the word 'repent' can be understood. For what must gay people repent? To whom should they address such repentance?
Various 'psychiatrists', clinicians and charlatans alike have claimed that homosexuality, the proclivity to be sexually attracted to your own gender, can be 'cured'.
I am convinced that the medical advisors of Michael Jackson believed that black people can be made white and they had a good go at it. That particular 'repentance and change' wasgrotesque and parodic, beginning in mental aberration and ending in misery.
Yes, Michael Jackson did need to repent and change. He needed to repent for his conviction that a black skin and Afro features are ugly and he needed to change his attitude to one of pride in what he was.
Nazir-Ali believes that people who are homosexual have in some sense transgressed the will of God. His Christian religion, its predecessor in the Old Testament and its successor among the Semitic religions, have always construed a connection between faith and sex. The good doctor gives the game away somewhat when he argues against homosexuality from the point of view that it transgresses God's will by going against the nature of man and woman. One can point out that any survey of any population of human beings will demonstrate that God created some people who are by nature and from a very young, even pre-pubic age, attracted to the same sex. Should they transgress against nature, defy the way God made them and obey Nazir-Ali's injunction to express regret for who they are and 'change'?
Our difference of opinion stems from the fact that Nazir-Ali believes that straight man-woman sex is "the way to express our sexual nature."
As every schoolboy knows, there are other ways of expressing one's sexual nature and trial and error may even demonstrate that these don't turn you blind.
There was a time in the 1960s and '70s when a debate raged about human traits being nature or nurture. The angels and libertarians argued for nurture as the foundation of the belief that all human beings are conditioned by their environment, influences and family, consciously or sub-consciously to behave in one way or the other. It was an egalitarian doctrine that pretended that we could all be beautiful, clever and equal. It was applied by the liberals to sexual orientation which was believed to be the result of conditioning and therefore could be reversed or added to making everyone bi-sexual.
There is now enough evidence to demonstrate that homosexuality is not conditioning but as natural and genetic as Michael Jackson's skin colour. Where does it leave Nazir-Ali -- and if bigoted Christians said he should repent and change his name, would he?
The writer is a London-based scriptwriter
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