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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

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The Root Of Homophobia

Ryan Kelly 2005

"I believe that one day the world will judge the witch hunt against an unbelievable injustice perpetrated by supposedly 'moral' people against innocent groups, just as harshly as it judges the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust. Both the Church and the Nazis believed they were acting in good faith." N. McLean, Burlington, ON. Letter to the editor, The Globe and Mail, 1998-APR-11

Unbelievable statements made by many conservative Christian organizations prompted this letter to the editor. An example of this comes from the king of hate himself, Jerry Falwell. Quoted in Jim Hill & Rand Cheadle, "The Bible Tells Me So," Anchor Books (1996), Pages 69-70, "[Homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven."

The organized political battle for and against equal rights for gays and lesbians is not between homosexual and heterosexual groups; it is between homosexuals and conservative religious groups. Many churches teach that one must love the homosexual while hating the homosexuality; this message is usually lost on the congregation; they end up hating both the homosexual and the homosexuality. Homophobia, hatred, and fear abound in all communities. However, for many small communities across the nation this is still the 1950's...with the 1950's mindset.

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As is the case with racism, numerous and complex societal factors contribute to homophobia. Moreover, as with racism, homophobia is based on prejudice towards those who are different. The primary source of homophobia in most Western nations seems to be the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition of opposition to homosexuality, justified by certain passages in Scripture (although in recent years certain "progressive" branches of Protestantism and Judaism are increasingly accepting of homosexuality). From its roots in religion, homophobia has institutionalized itself in the law (in many states one can be legally fired for being homosexual), psychology (until 1980, homosexuality was deemed a mental disorder by the official diagnostic manual of psychology, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the military (unlike any other minority, avowed homosexuals may not enlist or serve in the armed forces) and popular culture (homosexuals until very recently were usually depicted in movies and on television as either depressed, diseased, deranged, or preying on children).

The evidence that homophobia is a culturally based aversion, rather than a "natural" one, is extensive. Merely contrast the tolerance for gays and lesbians evidenced in Manhattan, Hawaii, or Amsterdam with the intolerance from much of rural America. This is not to say that aversion among many heterosexuals to same-sex sexual relations is in any way unnatural. However, because certain behaviors may be personally distasteful does not mean that they should be universally banned or even condemned (e.g. eating raw oysters!).

Conservatives within all of the major religions in North America, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, or other are generally opposed to equal rights and protections for gays and lesbians. However, essentially all of the politically active organizations opposing equal rights are either overtly conservative Christian associations, or organizations that are composed almost entirely of conservative Christians. One can often identify the groups by their names, which usually include the words "Christian" or "family." The following chart indicates difference in belief systems between conservative faith groups and social action groups with others. It is, of necessity, somewhat simplistic: