By Dr Lazarus Castang
I now turn my attention to a letter on Caribbean News Now entitled “The costs of homophobia in CARICOM
” by Sean Macleish (Director of Caribbean Alliance for Equality). This letter is pugnacious in what it proposes and repulsive in what it overlooks.
Dr Lazarus Castang is a licensed psychotherapist and an ordained SDA Minister of Religion. He holds a PhD in Old Testament, a Masters in Psychotherapy, and has completed studies in basic medical science. He has ministered to several communities in St Lucia, Barbados and the US and has provided therapy to individuals, couples and groups. He is a graduate of University of Southern Caribbean in Trinidad and Andrews University in Michigan. He has written two theological books and several articles on social relations. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sean writes a combative letter to Caribbean leaders to repeal Caribbean sodomy laws without addressing the morality of homosexual behaviour. By sidestepping the morality of homosexual practice and advancing so-called ethically neutral issues of equality, social inclusion, and open diversity, Sean engages in moral bracketing. What is immoral for Sean are the following: homophobia, sodomy laws, Caribbean leaders, international money and resources to Caricom with sodomy laws intact, and Caribbean majority rejection of homosexual behavior, but not homosexual behaviour itself.
Put differently, in Sean’s letter, Caribbean economic progress is inextricably and dependably tethered to the acceptance of the homosexual orientation/expression. In his eyes, the united enemies of homosexuality and ipso facto, of Caribbean economical progress, are: honorable Ralph Gonzales, Caribbean leaders, discriminatory laws, LGBT’s human rights abuses, majority rule, subjugation, sexual inequality and homophobia.
By such confrontational tone and accusatory approach, Sean depicts himself as a gay-pusher and an aids-prophet (pun intended). For him, reception of homosexual behaviours with arms wide open legitimises and mostly guarantees international moneys and resources, including reparation for slavery. Therefore, CARICOM leaders should go after an LGBT-driven economics. Caribbean leaders should risk their political survival to decriminalise and legalise men having sex with men (MSM), else they are immature, irresponsible, immoral, oppressive and repressive leaders who stand in violation of human rights and against regional growth.
There are five major problems with Sean’s proposal.
, Sean assumes that homosexual orientation/practice is a human right, and should be included in a CARICOM bill of rights. As a result, he proleptically or presumptuously calls the non-recognition of such “right” by many Caribbean leaders, human rights abuses.
Sodomy laws in CARICOM do not prohibit homosexual orientation (same-sex attraction and/or accepting homosexual as who one is) per se. The laws prohibit acting on the experiences of same-sex attraction, that is, homosexual acts. To call homosexual orientation/expression a human right and call for its protection mean that Sean has provided moral justification for such claim. You search his letter through and through and such justification is non-existent.
Though it is possible to assign arbitrarily a legal right to homosexual behaviour, there is no natural right to homosexual acts. It cannot be shown that by virtue of being human one automatically and autonomously has a natural or fundamental right to homosexual behaviours. If citizens reject all moral law, and each makes his/her own moral law and indulge in unrestrained freedom, then this leads to the arbitrary denial of the very basis of freedom and civility and introduces moral chaos.
Only sexual nihilists believe that there are no sexual norms. In such case, consensual sex between father and daughter, father and son, man and man, woman and woman, man and animals, and orgy and polygamy, would be an inviolable human right.
The basis of public policy in a diverse society with the separation of church and state cannot be divine law, or arbitrary human law, but social compact/contract derived from human reason grounded in nature (natural law/right). Though homosexual behaviour may not harm other persons or property (things outside of us), and consequently be called a “victimless crime,” it has been called “a crime against nature” because it causes harm in our human nature, against our ends and purposes. Mere common sense evidences that man is not a natural sexual complement of man in a formal, structural and embodied sense. Moreover, homosexual union is a procreative dead-end.
Plus, it is senseless to cast off moral virtue as an unjust infringement on freedom because it is the very thing needed for a civil society, for the triumph of reason over passion, conscience over concupiscence, justice over injustice, compassion over vendetta, and right over wrong.
, Sean believes that the push for Caribbean economic progress should jettison majority rule. He claims that Caribbean leaders are mortgaging “the region’s future with atrophy, by retarding the growth of their nations in exchange for power by majority rule.” It is a fact that there should not be the tyranny of the majority over minority suggesting that might is right. Nor should there be the bullying of a sexual minority in search of absolute individual autonomy. There should never be a wholesale majority imposition on minority or a wholesale minority imposition on majority.
The purpose of government is to protect fundamental rights. Public law influences private morality. So, the legislation of morality cannot be excluded from government function and expect a civil society. Nor can all forms of majority rule be ruled out without inviting societal fragmentation, or moral relativism, or political anarchy. As much as economics is important for our collective prosperity, ethics is vital both for communal thriving and for economic propriety.
, Sean brazenly presumes that international aid should be a higher Caribbean value that precludes legal, social, cultural and religious sexual norms. The economics of homosexuality should devour traditional sexual values for regional economic growth. He shamelessly and implicitly advances the idea that homosexuality is above morality, or better than morality, and more lucrative than morality. His unconscionable proposal epitomises how the love of money is the root of personal, national, and regional moral evil
. His concept of equality legalises immorality for cash, but he berates what he sees as sexual inequality that negates homosexual immorality.
, the organisational goals of repealing Caribbean sodomy laws and pushing for the legalisation of homosexual behaviours in the Caribbean are misprioritised foreign agenda items. But homosexual orientation/behavior per se is not a foreign agenda item itself. Homosexuality is fallen human condition. It has been practiced for centuries among all sorts of people.
The foreign goal of repealing Caribbean sodomy laws flies right in the face of most Caribbean citizens. Such goal, pushed by paid minions and with strong monetary backing, audaciously takes the fight straight to Caribbean citizens in their own homeland and carelessly precipitates strong moral resistance which is then dubbed “homophobia” by goal-pushers like Sean. The goals as well as the descriptor “homophobia” legally, morally, culturally and religiously insult Caribbean citizens. Plus, the cycle (goal, resistance, and homophobia name-calling) can do nothing for such goal-pushers, but raise their professional blood pressure and frustration and increase professional headache, or burnout, or attrition.
The professional compulsion/propulsion to run with organizational goals of repealing sodomy laws and legalising homosexual behaviours has left Sean like a horse with blinders and limited peripheral vision. Moreover, Sean is like a big baby with a hammer in hand, believing that whatever he comes in contact with, even CARICOM, needs a pounding with homosexual equality and inclusion for his professional survival and organizational goal fulfillment.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic among Caribbean MSM demonstrates the weak prohibitive and preventive power/influence of sodomy laws to curtail homosexuality. Enforced or unenforced sodomy laws, HIV/AIDS epidemic or sexual abstinence education, homophobia or moral arguments against homosexuality, stigma or intimidation, discrimination or prejudice, religion or compassion, has not stopped or ended homosexual behaviours in the Caribbean and never will.
However, decriminalising homosexuality may lead to legislation to protect immorality (homosexuality) against immorality (injustices). But, in society, religion has always been a support of morality (against homosexuality as well as injustices). That’s why any legal consideration for the acceptance of homosexuality in Caribbean societies draws up a moral/legal/political conflict between right of conscience and the assumed “right” to homosexual orientation/expression.
, Sean assumes that sodomy laws demean and devalue the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) citizens and discount the moral validity of reparation to CARICOM for slavery. He alleges, “CARICOM neglects to understand that human rights, which include sexual orientation/expression, are to be protected, not levied with punishments which results in moral, personal and economic losses for the region.”
Unfortunately, Sean asserts that CARICOM’s assumed violation of the human rights of LGBTs while seeking to amend the violation of human rights (reparation for slavery) is a conundrum. But the real conundrum is Sean’s assumption that decriminalisation of homosexual immorality is moral, while criminalisation of homosexual immorality is immoral.
Sean puts the moral spotlight only on Caribbean sodomy laws, and not on homosexuality, on homophobia, and not on sexual norms, on the politics of Caribbean leaders, and not on the propaganda of LGBTs, on reparation to CARICOM for slavery, and not on reparation of homosexual behaviours. Such myopic and insular argument leads to antinomianism (lawlessness). It misplaces the moral focus from the immoral behaviour to the law intended to deter the immoral behaviour. It condemns the moral law as immoral for condemning the sexual behaviour as immoral. The bias is clear: the law should go, not the immoral behaviour.
Sean assumes that sodomy laws are guilty of discriminating against, demeaning and devaluing the lives of LGBTs by what they reinforce -- sexual inequality. By logical extension, this simplistic argument also applies to laws against pedophilia, incest, bestiality, polygamy and prostitution. Those involved in these immoralities, like homosexuality, are legally discriminated against, demeaned and devalued.
Moreover, it assumes that to condemn the sexual behaviour is to condemn the person. According to such reasoning, sodomy laws lead people to take the law into their own hands and illegally punish sodomy with physical violence, visual intimidation and verbal abuse. Such irrational argument cannot be sanely applied to sodomy laws alone. Consequently, there should be no law against anything since law discriminates against, demeans, devalues and unjustly punishes people especially in sexual matters. Pathetically and ultimately, the end of such blind reasoning is regional incivility, sexual nihilism, moral chaos and political anarchy.
The Caribbean church and CARICOM leaders should never compromise ethics for economics. They must defend an ethical economic and an economics informed by ethics. The danger and disaster that Sean is promoting call for an economic end to justify the unethical means (international aid contingent on the acceptance of homosexual behaviour).
With moral courage and conviction, Caribbean leaders should stand up against the immorality of homosexuality, even when their moral intention is mischaracterised as reinforcing the immorality of homophobia and recontextualised to retard economic progress. Neither CARICOM leaders, nor Caribbean people should let Sean’s indecent proposal fly.