It is the 28th of April, the Freethought Society at AUB are having a panel discussion about Dispelling Myths and Presenting the Facts of Homosexuality as I write this. Speakers include Ghassan Makarem from Helem, Dr. Tima Al-Jamil from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Dr. Richard Dean from the Department of Philosophy, Richard Dean from the Philosophy Department, Joshua Anderson from the Philosophy Department and Rita el-Haddad, MA student from the Psychology Department.

Structure: Each speaker will say a few things, then the floor would be open for comments and questions.

Rita el-Haddad

Was a homophobe, till the age of 19, taught that homosexuality was abnormal. She didn't feel she had to right to question authority. Did not know anyone who was gay, only exposed through media. At the age of 19, people she had known had come out to her, thus shattering her previous beliefs. An ethics course shattered the idea that homosexuality is unnatural. In an abnormal psychology course, she learned that homosexuality is not abnormal through the definition of normality. It is important to question authority, it is important to look things up and bother. To dispel myths we may have, we should challenge our beliefs.

Richard Dean

Will contribute through problematic arguments usually used:
- homosexuality is unnatural: it is not clear what "natural" means - it is very vague. Even if turns out to be unnatural it doesn't prove that it is wrong.
- homosexuality is wrong because if everyone were homosexual the human race would become extinct: this isn't a danger, we only got 8 billion left, so it isn't a convincing argument.
- argument associated with religion: if you say, "of course religions are opposed to homosexuality" it is not quite right. Check Hinduism and branches of Christianity who do not think homosexuality is wrong. Some Baptist churches now ordain gay ministers, etc. There's two different views about what religion could give us about morality. God gave humans the power of thinking, so we should be able to come to conclusions. Another view says that God tells us what to do, and maybe there are a few experts that we may listen to. Whatever is revealed should be discussed and interpreted without

Tima Al-Jamil

We must begin to think about these issues and talk about them. It has been discussed for centuries in other places in the world so there is so much diversity when it comes to the discourse ... Having said that, the idea of homosexuality has shifted from being a sin, deviance, pathology, a behavior. There is so much more on homophobia then on homosexuality when it comes to research. People want to understand why homophobes are homophobes rather than why homos are homos.
Facts:
- discussion begins in the 1800s through case studies with patients with pathological backgrounds
- no consistent evidence in pathological patterns that CAUSE homosexuality
- one consistent pattern: homosexuals have recorded since childhood, the age of 10, that they have felt different and have engaged in gender non-conformed behavior
- There are genetic and hormonal influences, neuro-psychologists have noticed a different

Freud by the end of his life said that homosexuality is not a psychological issue. Studies have correlated distress with experiences of stigma, etc. We define abnormality with distress, dysfunction and danger (to self and others)

Treatment has failed to "treat" patients and reverse their sexuality. 88% of a study have recorded no change in patients, for the rest, there's a decrease in homosexual BEHAVIOR but no increase in heterosexual desire.

Ghassan Makarem

Homosexuality in Lebanon:
-myth that there is tolerance
-myth that society is too conservative to accept homosexual acts/identity

in Helem, we noticed that there are different ways in looking at homosexuality. There is a relation with the education, the setting (urban: more likely to have a homosexual lifestyle). We do not know how people percieve homosexuality. There hasnt been any studies. Gays and Lesbians in Lebanon have it better here? Not entirely true. We have obstacles: article 534 criminalizes unnatural sexual intercourse. In some places used exclusively against gay men, less about gay women. At the end of 2002, they wanted to include lesbians in the penal code. It was stopped by a coalition of NGOs.Scientific evidence comes from Europe and the United States and they give false impressions. From the beginning at Helem, we made a decision that we are concerned with civic laws, we are not looking to reform any religion. We try not to deal with religious issues, but any reform should focus on civil law.

We look at how the state looks at homosexuals and whether there is any institutional discrimination against homosexuals. We have been working with various organizations in Lebanon, even though this article exists, Helem is in a coalition with the Ministry of Health and works with the Ministry of Public Affairs. We also work with the police on how gays and lesbians are treated.

Joshua Andresen

In the spirit of AUB's mission statement on diversity, tolerance and dialogue, we will take questions now.

question one: There is nothing scientific about homosexuality being okay, it was taken away from the medical ---- because of pressure of the gay lobby + and some animals eat their pheotus, does this mean we should do it?

Dr. Al-Jamil: the decision to remove homosexuality is based on arguments that were strong. Their homosexuality was not causing the three Ds. And thus they cannot "be treated" for being homosexuals. We have done more harm to our patients in trying to change their sexuality, we cause more distress.

Richard Dean: The argument is false, that

question two: if WHO and scientific research think that homosexuality is linked with diseases, do u think that it is acceptable for society to let homosexuals contribute to the decline of our society?

Dr. Al-Jamil: we have to find mediating factors that are mediating that relationship: acts of prejudice, discrimination ... I don't seem to be familiar with the studies that you are familiar with.

Public comment: May I suggest that in the future we may discuss homophobia as a disease

Question three: A friend told me that he doesn't have a problem with homosexuals as long as it's behind closed doors because he wouldn't know how to explain it to his son, that it's for pleasure, not for making babies. It got me thinking, To Helem, [something about sectarianism, her comment falajni]

About secterianism, Helem is a space where people come together ...

Dr. Al-Jamil: [...] studies show that children adopted in homosexual relations do not develop more homosexual tendencies than ones with heterosexual parents

Dr. Dean: [..] you wouldn't want to say if some situations create awkward moments for parents we should outlaw whatever.. we should find a balance...

1 comments

  1. Rita El-Haddad // 2 July 2009 at 00:12  

    Great job! It was nice reading a summary of the whole event :)