Thursday, 8 February 2007

A Glaring Omission

Of all the preposterous assertions being advanced to justify the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to sanction adoption by gay couples [though it illogically does not bar single gay people from adopting], the most preposterous of all is the claim that vulnerable children will thereby be saved from having to endure the bullying and playground taunts they would get from being placed with gay foster-parents. While a well-adjusted and articulate teenager might be able to handle such a situation, the Catholic apologists demurely aver, it would be cruel to expose less robust kids to it. Piously citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that "Homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided", the priest-ridden propagandists protest that, in this instance, the discrimination they wish to make is not “unjust”.

Has it never occurred to them that playground anti-gay taunts and bullying are themselves unjust discrimination, and that the first duty of teachers – and parents too – should be to tackle this budding homophobia amongst their pupils and severely reprobate the use of hostile language about gayness or any other aspect of sexuality?

The nub here is the tribal instinct to dislike, mock at and, if allowed, persecute those who are, or are perceived as, different. Whether children mocked and bullied at school for being gay are in fact homosexual is a separate issue. Either way, the authorities should crack down on this verbal violence before it escalates into physical harm, and do some positive educating for a change.

The nub of the matter is that, despite their fine words, Roman Catholics, like Evangelical Protestants, do regard homosexual people as inferior human beings and by this very fact are discriminating against them. Surely the only relevant question is not whether an adopting couple are members of the same sex or of opposite sexes, but whether they have a mutually loving relationship [physically expressed or not] with the requisite qualities to give a secure and supportive home background to a child.

There are, of course, many teenagers and even younger children who have identified themselves as gay and have suffered rejection and discrimination because of it. They are among the most damaged and most vulnerable members of society about whom the Catholic Church professes to be so concerned. That Church is perfectly entitled to believe, as many others do, that a child will thrive better in a loving home with both a mother and a father than in a loving home with two adult men or two adult women. But if a child seeking adoption would prefer two same-sex foster parents, should it be denied that choice?

I have known several children brought up by same-sex “parents”. One was a little girl of about nine who lived with her natural father and his male partner, of whom she was very fond. She was a beautifully behaved and very practical child, When I asked her how she managed to explain her home situation to her schoolfellows she replied “oh, I don’t tell most of them. They are too stupid and ignorant to understand.” Like Roman Catholic bigots, presumably. Another lesbian friend had three sons by different fathers. She wanted the children, but not the men, preferring to share her life with another woman. Her teenage son was a charming and thoroughly heterosexual young man. His mother made certain that when he went on holiday with his Swedish girlfriend he had an ample supply of condoms. He is now a happily married father of a family.

Real-life stories like this make much more sense to me than the witterings of sex-obsessed prurient prudes who sadly make up so much of the vocal element of the Christian churches these days and whose moral compasses are so badly awry.



Toby Lewis said...

Good article and I agree with what you say.

One argument I have heard, but don't fully agree with, in favour of the Catholic Church, is despite their vaguely ludicrous positions on sexual issues they do at least take clearly stated positions. This may not be true of many others who foster prejudices without having at least thought out why they have their beliefs. Maybe in this sense there is a certain moral superiority for the Catholic Bishop over the person who emotionally dislikes gay adoption? This argument would be valid if you could distinguish effectively between the two parties. I, however, am doubtful.

anticant said...

Moral SMUGNESS perhaps - but surely not morally superior to promote a religious prejudice based on irrational dogma rather than one that is grounded, however misguidedly, on an honest 'yuk' feeling?

Jose said...

Religiously rigged prejudices turn otherwise sentient people into bigots with no charitable feelings. While hypocritically approving the contents of a constitution they seem to ignore the true spirit - and the letter - of the Mother Law of a country and place their belief in the harangues they listen their religious leaders roar from pulpits that seem to endow them with divine gifts.

I question whether the laws - quite explicit laws - that advocate respect for everybody no matter what religion, sex, etc can be so easily tacitly attacked by those religious tyrants whose attitudes could be the subject of a lawsuit.

I wonder.