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Pepper meets Salt



Editor: Had I not been a regular reader of the local newspapers I would have been completely taken by Salt’s call for respect in last week’s SEARCHLIGHT. Having read the papers I can come to no other conclusion than Salt has an aversion to homosexuality and nothing one says can make Salt see that the real challenge is not whether we support homosexuality or not, but how we can improve relations with persons whose sexual orientation is different from most of us, and what is the most effective way to fight HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases?

In Salt’s world, homosexuals are the purveyors of evil and are responsible for spreading HIV/AIDS. Salt however seeks sympathy from an all too supportive public by claiming to be labeled and insulted. Salt claims to want the best for society and this is commendable. However, how do we get the best solutions when Salt refuses to address completely the issues raised by those viewed as supporters of homosexuals?{{more}}

It was evident from reading Mr. Kamara’s response to the Brokeback movie issue that he was speaking as an operator of a cinema. Mr. Kamara’s statement that people should have the right to read or view whatever they want is true on its face. There should be societal limits in relation to minors, but no adult should be able to sit in a room, look at a movie or read a book and then pass an edict which says that another adult cannot or should not see or read the material. We should all be allowed as adults to make our own decisions.

After reading Salt’s call for respect, I re-read Jomo Thomas’ article. I have always been drawn to his writings because I find him to be the most honest and courageous of our columnists. He simply calls a spade a spade and is not afraid to present positions that are unpopular or politically incorrect. I fail to find anything in his article that was insulting, inappropriate, mere assertions or assumptions. The column was a call for tolerance and understanding and an assault on hypocrisy.

Salt said that there was a reference in Mr. Thomas’ article that was entirely inappropriate for children. If Salt were to be taken at his/ her word we would have to censor many parts of The Bible from the eyes and ears of minors. In that great book we find references to incest, sexual pollution, homosexuality, group rape, adultery, group sex, nudity, prostitution, husband swapping, sexual betrayal and bestiality.

I also took Salt’s advice and went Internet hunting. I perused the listings from the Centre for Disease Control, The New England Journal of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University as well as Gay publications and found nothing which claims that the ‘homosexual life style is simply not a good idea.’ The research convinced me that unprotected sex rather than one’s sexual orientation is the cause of much pain, grief, sorrow and death. But I also found the following statements by professional associations:

• The American Psychiatry Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973
• The American Psychological Association declared homosexuality was not a disorder in 1975
• The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1981
• The Academy of Pediatric Council on Child and Adolescent Health has concluded that homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed.

In fairness to Salt, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that brings together psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and behavioral scientists maintains that homosexuality is a sexual disorder which can be readily cured. Its membership is small (less than 2000) as compared the 130,000 members of the American Psychological Association. To help its profile NARTH allows non therapists to join as friends of NARTH and many conservative Christian ministries have done this.

So much for Salt’s research.

One would have thought that by now we would all agree that no group is more responsible than the other for the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Heterosexual are no less vulnerable than homosexuals. In fact, across the world more people are infected each day through heterosexual contact than through homosexual encounter. Prevention, protection and treatment are central to our survival, not blind, uninformed hatred for any given group.