Criminalizing the Christian View of Homosexuality
Beyond a doubt, one of the gravest threats to the freedom of Christians in many Western nations right now is posed by the efforts of LGBT activists to outlaw any form of dissent from their progressive sexual ideology.
Often, these efforts take the form of so-called “hate crime” laws. Typically, these laws are framed in such broad terms that simply expressing moral disagreement with homosexual practices, or quoting certain passages of scripture, even in private conversation, could plausibly be deemed “hate speech.”
Scotland, for instance, is currently considering a hate crime bill that would make it illegal, in the words of The Times, to “promote the view that a trans woman is not a woman.”
To be clear, a trans “woman” is most definitely not a woman. A “trans woman” is a biological male who has either undergone surgery to look like a woman, or simply dresses like a woman, or even claims to be a woman. However, this person remains a man, in every meaningful sense of the term. That’s just a scientific fact. However, if this hate crime bill passes in Scotland, those who say or write what I just wrote could be arrested and charged with a crime.
Even worse, Scotland’s justice minister Humza Yousaf has refused to put language into the legislation clarifying that a person could not be charged for something they say in their own home. That is, if, in a private conversation among friends you were to simply say, “A trans woman is not a woman,” you could be breaking the law.
In Norway, a similar hate crime bill explicitly lays out the punishments for comments made in private (up to one year in prison), as opposed to comments made in public (three years in prison).
Canada’s “Conversion Therapy” Ban
Another avenue that LGBT activists are pursuing to crack down on dissent on sexual issues is trying to pass bans on so-called “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy.” In general, reparative therapy refers to any kind of psychological counseling or practice designed to reduce feelings of same-sex attraction, or to help individuals to leave the homosexual lifestyle.
Currently, the legislature of our neighbors to the north is considering one such ban. The ban specifically targets giving reparative therapy to minors, advertising or profiting from providing such therapies, and causing someone to go through reparative therapy against their own will.
Clearly, there is no argument about that last provision. Any effort to force someone to undergo such therapy would be a grave violation of the freedom and dignity of the individual.
However, conservatives and Christians in the country are warning that the legislation is so broad that it amounts to an unprecedented attack on freedom, conscience rights, and parental rights. Furthermore, it would leave individuals who are suffering within the homosexual lifestyle without the resources or help they need to turn their life around.
A Grave Threat to Freedom
LGBT activists who are targeting “conversion therapy” tend to paint a lurid picture, in which unscrupulous hucksters use grossly unscientific and even patently harmful methods to “cure” people of their homosexual attractions. No doubt, there have been cases where such abuses have occurred, and such practices must be forcefully condemned.
As the Catholic Catechism states there is still much that we do not understand about the genesis of same-sex attraction. As the Catechism puts it, “[Homosexuality’s] psychological genesis remains largely unexplained” (no. 2357). Any effort to help a person change their sexual feelings must be rooted in a profound respect for their freedom and the best scientific and clinical evidence available.
However, if you look at the definition of “conversion therapy” in the Canadian law, it includes not only efforts to modify feelings, but also “sexual behaviour.” In other words, if a minor has become involved in destructive homosexual practices – practices that pose significant threats to his mental and physical health – a counselor could not legally help him stop those behaviors, even if he wanted the help.
Some former homosexuals have publicly spoken up, expressing their fears that they could be arrested simply for sharing their stories, and encouraging others enmeshed in the homosexual lifestyle to live chastely!
The Canadian Catholic bishops have also raised the alarm, warning that under the bill “private conversations between parents and their children on matters of human sexuality” could be subject to “criminal prosecution.”
“There is a real danger that Christian and other religious and ethical teaching with respect to human sexuality would be interpreted as criminal acts,” the bishops warned in a letter. “The Bill could even criminalize Catholic ministries and groups, religious leaders, or pastors who encourage individuals with same-sex attraction to live chastely and in conformity with the teachings of the Gospel, the moral principles of the Catholic Church, and the dictates of their own conscience.”
Freedom Protected in Florida
Unfortunately, LGBT activists are following the same playbook here in the United States as well. Similar bans have been passed in cities and states all around the country. In one recent encouraging case, however, a federal judge ruled that a pair of Florida bans were unconstitutional, and violated freedom of speech.
“We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial,” wrote Circuit Judge Britt Grant. “But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech.” The judge noted that the bans discriminated based upon the “content” of counselors’ speech as well as “on the basis of viewpoint.”
The judge noted the contradiction that while the bans prevented counselors from helping individuals reduce same-sex attraction through talk therapy, they explicitly carved out an exception for therapists who were helping individuals undergo a “gender transition” – in other words, to become “transgender.”
“No such carveout exists for sexual orientation. The ordinances thus codify a particular viewpoint – sexual orientation is immutable, but gender is not – and prohibit the therapists from advancing any other perspective when counseling clients,” the decision continued.
Now, that’s a logical argument! As one writer points out, these bans are inherently contradictory and discriminatory. On the one hand, if a minor who is confused about his sexuality goes to a counselor seeking help to embrace a homosexual identity, that is perfectly legal. On the other hand, if he seeks help to reduce unwanted same-sex feelings, or to stop engaging in homosexual behaviors, that’s illegal!
A True Anthropology
Though it is very controversial to say it, the simple fact is that the homosexual lifestyle comes with all sort of physical, psychological, and spiritual risks. There are good reasons why parents and individuals suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions might want to seek counsel helping themselves or their children either moderate or (if possible) eliminate those feelings, or to stop acting out on them.
As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted in a 1986 document,
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.
While any therapeutic initiatives related to homosexuality or other sexual issues must fully respect the freedom of the patient, so too they should be rooted in a correct anthropology, that recognizes the fundamental reality of sex, and the complementarity of the sexes. Unfortunately, a true understanding of the human person is of little or no concern to LGBT activists and government ideologues that insist homosexuality is innate and immutable. They are merely pushing an agenda steeped in the rhetoric and wishful desire of sexual revolutionists.
Progressives have no concern for objective truth or the genuine care for the dignity and well-being of the human person. The same activists who insist that sexual feelings cannot be altered in anyway, are also the ones who insist that gender itself can be fluid and changed, simply by one’s desires, or who are arguing that children should be able to permanently mutilate their bodies by taking hormone blocking drugs or undergoing so-called “sex change” operations.
It is important that parents, Church leaders, and pro-family activists stay informed about the assaults on freedom that are happening in the name of “LGBT rights,” and to fearlessly respond to them, demanding that their legislators not cave to the pressure, and defend freedom.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.