Sunday, 22 February 2009

Times: What gay couples do in private is nobody's business

Sunday, 22nd February 2009 by Marisa Xuereb, Mosta

It is exasperating - rather than 'painful', as Yvette Debono presumes (The Sunday Times, February 15) - to read letters such as hers. Ms Debono asserts that homosexuals - or rather gay people, because there is more than sex in the lives of these people, "may live a normal life and accept themselves as they are if they do not wish to seek psychological or medical help to adjust their confused sexual inclinations".

Who said gay people have confused sexual inclinations? And since when do they need other people's permission to lead a normal life and accept themselves as they are?
Many gay people are well aware of their sexual inclinations and perfectly happy with themselves. They lead fulfilling lives, have stable relationships, and hold their own families very much at heart.

When are we going to stop speculating about what happens between two adults in their intimate life? In my book, this is called "judging others" and is a sin against the great commandment, "Love thy neighbour".

What happens between a couple is a matter of private morality and should not serve to decide whether they should be granted or denied civil rights and responsibilities. Such rights and responsibilities should accrue because of the value of committed relationships to the people involved in them and to society as a whole. A society in which all people are encouraged to have stable, committed relationships and lead fulfilling lives is a better society for everyone.

No one in his right mind would wish gay people to get involved in heterosexual relationships, and by the same token, no one in his right mind should expect gay people to remain single for life, just because of what they might engage in with their same-sex partners. That is nobody's business.

Ultimately, married couples are not afforded rights and responsibilities because of what they do or don't do in bed - and nor because they have children, as some of them don't.
Married couples are granted rights and responsibilities because their commitment is valued by society, whether they have children or not, and so should be the commitment of same-sex couples, whether they have children or not.

And when are we going to stop assuming that children brought up by same-sex couples are at risk of losing their innocence and prone to psychological and emotional confusion? Contrary to what anti-gay advocates would have us believe, research shows otherwise.

A report on lesbian and gay parenting published by the American Psychological Association that cites 151 studies on same-sex parenting concludes that "there is no evidence to suggest that lesbian women or gay men are unfit to be parents or that psychosocial development among children of lesbian women or gay men is compromised relative to that among offspring of heterosexual parents.

"Not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.

"Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children's psychosocial growth." (American Psychological Association, 2005: Lesbian and Gay Parenting.)

Ms Debono should note that when a study is quoted, the full reference should be given so that interested readers can verify the sources.

Finally, when are we going to stop excluding all the various forms of non-traditional families that exist in our society from our notion of "the family". Families exist in all shapes and sizes, whether our laws cater for them or not. We should not be concerned by the diversity of our families but by the fact that our laws do not cater for all our families.

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