Betty Caplan: Gay Bashing Shows our Backwardness - The Star

The much-hyped wedding of two gay men in London has provoked much comment in this country and brought it into shame. It shows that many of us are way behind the times.

For a start, look at the way it was described: Daniel Chege, 39, and his "bride" Charles Ngengi, 40, were joined in holy matrimony.

Why use the word "bride"? He is a year older. Is it because he has dressed in female clothing at times and looks more effeminate? This shows a complete misunderstanding of the nature of human sexuality, evidenced, sadly, even by some of the most intelligent members of our society.

Human sexuality is a far more complex and multilayered thing than their limited imaginations can possibly grasp; yet Plato, the great Greek philosopher, long ago argued in Symposium about a "third sex" — one which had facets of male and female in different proportions, expressed in varying ways.

Incidentally, the Greeks were famous for their love of young boys and not a bit ashamed of it. It was part of a boy's development to be "initiated" by an older man and there are exquisite vases and other works of art to prove it. "Pederast" comes from ancient Greek: "pais" is boy and "erastas" lover.

This did not automatically stamp either as "gay" for life; they were able to move from one stage of sexuality to another, just as African men routinely have at least one mistress outside marriage, but this is okay because polygamy has always been accepted, despite the missionaries.

Somewhere God (who always intrudes into the conversation) sanctions that. Just as He seems to be happy with girls getting married at 13 against their will, rape, maternal mortality and child prostitution. These appear to be sanctioned in the Bible. But not homosexuality. Did you know that a certain percentage of animals are also attracted to the same sex?

Then there is that old myth: "this is a Western thing — don't bring it to Africa" by Robert Mugabe. What nonsense! You only have to look at the Coast to see that homosexuality is rife but hidden. The cost is terrible.

Foreign dirty old men have quietly killed off several young boys in Lamu by infecting them with Aids but the subject is taboo. Hypocrisy kills! Imagine if it was your son who had lost his life just to earn a few shillings. It seems that Kenya wants to ape the most backward country in the world — Saudi Arabia — where they lash people for such things, or if they're female, stone them to death. Somewhere in the Quran this has apparently been approved but I kindly request someone to quote me chapter and verse.

Homosexuality among men is extremely common in the Arab world, but not being an open society, they keep it secret. So a man will marry for appearance's sake and produce offspring but his real affection will be for his male lover.

What does this do to wives, daugh-ters, families? Or to the man who wears a false
face? You can't find out about lesbianism in these countries because it is too shocking even to be mentioned. But rest assured, it exists.

How can Kenya purport to be a modern democracy and yet deny its citizens such basic rights? What is presently before the parliament in Uganda is nothing short of antediluvian and will make East Africa the laughing stock of the world if it is passed.

Asking people to own up on "deviant" members of their families?

Is this godly behaviour? Look at Brazil where the great annual Carnival at Lent embraces all sorts, where cross-dressing is tolerated just as it is in Haiti where voodoo and boy lovers are part of the culture. Perhaps the Anglophone countries inherited their attitudes from the cold northern British legacy of Puritanism?

And speaking of God, the Pope's invitation to the disenchanted Anglicans was nothing less than a cynical move to drive out gay priests forever and to deny women a role beyond the humble and submissive.

They can make tea and run bazaars to fundraise as much as they like, but let them not dream of having real power, though in the Middle Ages there were Abbesses like the one in Shaftesbury, who were towers of strength and brooked no nonsense from any man.

Not today. No wonder people aren't queueing up to join the ranks of the church! Yet Mary is elevated to the holiest position of all: Mother of God, Virgin, Immaculata, untouched by the dirty hand of sex. If this is the ideal role model for women, where does the family come in? Does it make sense?

Caplan is a consultant educationist and freelance writer.

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