I have seen no good reason for denying homosexuals equal rights

Stabroek News
July 19, 2001

Dear Editor,

I read the letters addressing homosexuality and the new constitution. Even though some letter writers have disagreed with my opinion, even going to the extent of quoting Bible verses in their attempt to deny homosexuals the rights that every other citizen will have under the new constitution, I am encouraged because it starts a debate, it sheds some light on this issue.

So far, I have not seen any legitimate reason for denying homosexuals the same rights that straight people have. Some have made statements that suggest gay people are pedophiles. The record shows this is an outright lie. Most pedophiles are not gay. Some will condemn us to fire and brimstone, will recreate a Sodom and Gomorrah from pulpits. That in itself is not justification for gay people not being protected constitutionally. There was a reference to Hinduism and Islam with regard to this issue. As far as I know, there is no scripture in Hinduism that condemns homosexuality. In fact there are numerous temples in India with sculptures of two men or two women making love. There is even a famous sculpture showing that man is both male and female - one half of the sculpture is female and the other half is male. And if we are to accept reincarnation, then it is plausible that an individual soul can inhabit a female body in one lifetime and a male body in another. I can make no claim for the Koran.

But to the scripture quoting camp let me say that religion on the whole has never been a champion for the rights of the masses. It was seen as the opiate, the thing that kept them quiet, that solidified the ruling class, that made the churches powerful and kept the masses in ignorance and enslaved their minds and therefore subjected them to manipulation and serfage. So religious doctrines do not necessarily serve as the standard for determining who should be protected and by how much.

Others have suggested their fear that giving gay people any rights will bring into question other issues like marriage and marriage benefits that straight couples presently enjoy. This sounds like fear if you ask me. It is also a hollow reason and is only bent on propagating fear and distrust of gay people.

In another camp are the railings that homosexuality is "undesirable", that this "lifestyle" is not suitable for children to know of. So far, there has been no concrete proof showing why homosexuality is undesirable, or why it puts children at risk. I share the concerns that affect the well being of children; poverty, child-abuse, illiteracy, AIDS/HIV, etc. However, these social ills are not born from homosexuality. And to the "lifestylers", what is a lifestyle anyway? These words only trivialize the fact that there are gay people in our midst, people who have faced tauntings, faced non-acceptance, faced rejection, in some cases, since they were young children. Many of these individuals bear the scars of growing up in a society that finds them something of an oddity. They are daily being harassed, teased and belittled.

The recent publicity stunt of a certain Jamaican politician against Prime Minister Patterson indicates the widespread intolerance for gays or suspected gays in the Caribbean community. There are gay people here, in case some deny their existence. And they deserve equal protection like any other minority group.

At the expense of sounding repetitious, let me say that homosexuals are not demanding any special rights. We are demanding equal rights. And to those screaming for proof of discrimination against homosexuals, I would ask, is there discrimination against people based on religion?

Yours faithfully,

Rohan Sooklall