Monday, November 11, 2013

Natural Ignorance

Just a few days before Hong Kong's annual Gay Pride March attracted a crowd twice the size of last year's, it was reported that "the Liberal Party conducted a survey in which they found over 60% of the 1,200 respondents [as always with such figures, I wonder how this sample was selected?] objected to homosexuality and transgenderism".  Well, tough!  I object to typhoons, but that doesn't mean they don't happen.

In a city which is well behind the times in terms of waking up to equal rights, the result is hardly surprising.  What is sad is that instead of taking a lead in trying to enlighten the public, Liberal Party legislator Felix Chung endorsed the findings, describing these conditions as "anti-natural".  The reality, however, is that homosexual behaviour is observed in nature across a wide array of animal species.  Put simply, scientific observation tells us that like it or not, it is natural for gay people to be gay.  I am naturally attracted to women; Elton John is naturally attracted to men - that doesn't make either of us unnatural.

As for transgenderism, I suspect some of the prejudice here comes from simple-mindedness - many people want to slot everyone into two neat categories because it's easier to think that way.  But nature is not so precise - many babies are born with varying degrees of gender ambiguity, often "tidied up" surgically in infancy, though this policy is increasingly being questioned.  There is nothing new about this - one of our words for intersex individuals dates back to ancient Greece.  There have been notable transsexuals throughout history, including possibly a Roman Emperor and allegedly a Pope.  Some people may not even be aware of their true gender, as in a recent Hong Kong case.

So while some countries are amending their laws to recognise these realities, some Hong Kong politicians are still attacking natural phenomena as "unnatural".  This only demonstrates that the natural state of Liberal Party politicians is ignorance. 

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