Questionable Motives

September 30, 2009

The Exercise of Belief vs Respecting Human Rights – someone’s getting killed

Filed under: Politics,Religion — tildeb @ 5:12 pm


Iraqi militias are torturing and killing “hundreds” of men in a growing, systematic campaign against suspected homosexual activity that may be aided by Iraqi security forces, an international human rights group said Monday. Read the article here.

But Iraq is pretty unstable and many civilians are killed. Why single out gays for comment?

Well, I think this belief – that homosexual behaviour is chosen, unnatural, as well as against the will of god – is presumed to be accurate by far too many people who holds positions of political secular power, and is a belief that continues to need no preponderance of evidence to support the merits of the presumption. Yet it is this presumption that continues to drive anti-gay behaviour. And this behaviour is counter to the dignity, respect, and human rights of an identifiable group of people.

Here’s the opinion of newly-installed president of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, who responded to a question about a UN resolution which calls for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality:

“That matter is very sensitive, very touchy. As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it . . . it is not accepted by the majority of countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all. I think it’s not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition.

The Pope concurs:  [The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all. It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected. (From The New Scientist here.)

That’s not the right sense; that’s the religious sense, the same sense that presupposes the truth value of certain beliefs that dead people can rise, winged horses can fly to heaven, and so on. It is belief, plain and simple, without any necessary recourse to substantiation like reason and evidence but one that merely perpetuates the unsubstantiated belief.

So what?

Well, in the case of of special treatment for gays, it is a belief that not only undermines their human rights and dignity but powers reprehensible behaviour that directly and without apology clearly violates both. And that raises an interesting question: To hold positions of political and legal secular power, should not the applicant’s religious beliefs be legitimate  grounds for discrimination when the beliefs run counter to respecting the secular human rights and dignity of all?

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