Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Homosexuality may lead to exploitation by blackmail, robbery, or sexual violence. In some countries, homosexuality is a criminal offence.
Male homosexuality, condemned in Judaeo-Christian society as the 'sin of Sodom', was condoned and even exalted in ancient Greece. Female homosexuality, or Lesbianism (recalling the poetess Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos and wrote love poems to women), is consistently condemned. Particularly since the liberalization of the law in England and Wales, and the foundation in America of the Gay Liberation Front, male and female homosexuals in these and many other Western countries have become less secretive about their way of life. Until the early part of the 20th century, homosexuality generally meant a form of sexual perversion. With the development of psycho-analysis, less emphasis was laid on sex-proper and a correspondingly broader connotation assigned to the term sexual. In current usage, overt homosexuality refers to physical, sexual contact between members of the same sex, while latent homosexuality is used to refer to impulses and desires toward a member of the same sex which are unconscious or, if conscious, are not openly expressed.
While sexual relations between two men or two women may be accepted in certain societies, and regarded as normal or at least tolerated (such as male homosexuality in Asian cultures), male homosexuality is particularly despised in Anglo-American culture and female homosexuality, although less reviled, is generally unaccepted. Recently homosexuality has come to be slightly more tolerated in 'Western' culture with the influence of the 'permissive society'.
Presently, there exists no scientific consensus on the causes of homosexuality or, for that matter, of heterosexuality. However, because traditionally homosexuality has been viewed in most Western societies as a divergence from normal sexual development and orientation, a wide variety of theories regarding its causation have arisen. Such explanations currently can be grouped as biological, psychoanalytic, and social learning theories, or some combination thereof.
An example of a biological theory is from a study done in the Netherlands. Thirteen of 15 brains of homosexual men who died of AIDS had suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a part of the hypothalamus, was twice the size of a comparable group of heterosexual men and women. Two of the 15 who not thought to be homosexual had normal SCNs. This small group of cells helps regulate the rhythms of waking and sleeping, hormone secretion and sexuality.
Since male homosexuality appear to run in families, another biological explanation lies in genetics. In 1973, a research team reported that the appeared to be a linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation. In 1995 researchers at the US National Cancer Institute reported evidence that genetic material on one segment of the X chromosome seemed to influence the probability of homosexuality in men, though not in women.
The traditional psychoanalytical view is that homosexuality is an acquired psychological condition reflecting a divergence from normal development. Most theories of this type emphasize the importance of early relationships with parental figures. Usually this figure is considered to be the mother in the case of male homosexuality.
Social learning theories suggest that, in some cases, an adolescent may be repelled by certain physiological aspects of the female personality. In others he may be afraid of not being able to play the role society expects of him in his relations with the woman his education assigns him as a partner. These apprehensions may lead to homosexuality if there are no moral prohibitions on this practice.
A theory favoured by militant homosexuals, is that homosexuality does not need any explanation, since it is an inherent potentiality in all of us and is repressed in most of us only by education and social pressure.
1. Active homosexual behaviour is deviant. Many boys and girls pass through a period of homosexuality. It is the task of the teacher to help them through that state. Anything else amounts to promoting arrested development. Anyone who teaches others to believe otherwise is an evil influence in society.
2. The family is the ultimate victim of homosexuality, a result which society can only tolerate within certain limits. Those who reinforce the disintegrative elements in society will be condemned by future generations. If psychiatrists collectively endorse one of the symptoms of social distress as a normal phenomenon, they demonstrate to the public their ignorance of social dynamics, of the relation of personal maladaptation to social disharmony, and thereby acquire a responsibility for aggravating the existing social chaos.
3. From a Catholic perspective, homosexuality is an aberrant deviation and children adopted by homosexuals will bear the scars of suffering and frustration. Encouraging homosexual tendencies means overturning natural order, set by God at the moment of Creation.
4. A particular problem that can appear during the process of sexual maturation is homosexuality, which is also spreading more and more in urbanized societies. Young people need to be helped to distinguish between the concepts of what is normal and abnormal, between subjective guilt and objective disorder, avoiding what would arouse hostility. On the other hand, the structural and complementary orientation of sexuality must be well clarified in relation to marriage, procreation and Christian chastity. A distinction must be made between a tendency that can be innate and acts of homosexuality that "are intrinsically disordered" and contrary to Natural Law. (Pontifical Council for the Family: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, 1995).
5. At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people. A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable. In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life. In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Persona Humana, 1975).
6. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. To chose someone of the same sex for one's sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator's sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent. But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behaviour to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase. (Papal Writings, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986).
1. In the Kinsey report of 1948 on sexual behaviour in the USA, 37% of males questioned admitted to physical contact (to the point of orgasm) with another male at least once between adolescence and old age. It was estimated that some 10% of American males had indulged in more or less exclusively homosexual activity for at least three years. Such figures are indicative that homosexuality constitutes normal rather than deviant behaviour. Perception of this normality is distorted by the widespread victimization of homosexuals.
2. Psychiatrists in the USA decided in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the classification of psychiatric disorders, replacing it by "sexual orientation disturbance", explicitly distinguished from homosexuality, which by itself does not necessarily constitute a psychiatric disorder.