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Damned If You Do June 25, 2008

Posted by nitinkarani in English, Gay & Lesbian, Homophobia, Times of India.

From The Times of India‘s edit page, 23 June 2008:

 Damned If You Do

23 Jun 2008, 0148 hrs IST, Mukul Sharma

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, thus negating its previous definition of homosexuality as a mental disorder. It stated that there were no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological origin for homosexuality. Yet, every time some research paper even vaguely suggests that there might perhaps be a teensy genetic component or anatomical basis to behaviour, it immediately brings a good part of civilisation to its knees, choking on words like “bigot” and “agenda”. The latest study to cause such grief concerns a group of Swedish scientists who report that the brains of heterosexual men and homosexual women are slightly asymmetric — the right hemisphere is larger than the left — and the brains of gay men and straight women are not. That’s all. In fact, the researchers were unable to determine whether the differences in brain shape were genetic or due to exposure to environmental hormones, such as testosterone, while in the womb. The study was also unable to conclude whether the differences are responsible for sexual orientation. It’s a wonder the scientists didn’t issue a public apology and promise to do penance in caves for the rest of their lives.

Take handedness for instance. Left-handed people are also not normal — only in the sense that there are more right-handed people. It has nothing to do with being right or wrong or good or bad. And, like in the case of sexual orientation, no one knows for certain why the human population is right-hand dominant. At the same time, no one starts foaming at the mouth just because some scientists are trying their best to find out. They don’t take right-handedness as the starting point and label everything else as something deviant which needs to be explained so that people might get peace of mind. This is in spite of the fact that left-handed people have been discriminated for thousands of years and negative connotations associated with southpaws include clumsy, awkward, unlucky, insincere, sinister, malicious, and so on. The job of scientists is to bring objective understanding to that which is not understood. To do that, they have their work peer-reviewed and published for everyone to see. If they are proved to be right, the world will know; if wrong, well that comes with the territory.



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