Angry Doctor

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sick, sick people 5


Round 4...


Changing a person's sexual orientation: Conclusion flawed

I AM writing in response to Dr Alan Chin Yew Liang's letter titled, 'Figures speak for themselves: Practising gays have higher risk of HIV'.

I thank Dr Chin for keeping the discussion on an emotional topic grounded in rational discourse, and such an effort deserves a considered response.

First, with regard to Dr Chin's point about the higher relative incidence of Aids in homosexual people - the risk of contracting Aids among people who 'practise' homosexual sex is not a justification for continued criminalisation, but by safer-sex education and outreach programmes. This is exactly society's approach towards addressing the risk of contracting STDs among people who actively 'practise' heterosexual sex or that of lung cancer among people who smoke.

Dr Chin goes on to address the question of whether or not a person can change his sexual orientation, and quotes a study by Dr Robert Spitzer to draw the conclusion that 'even if one person can change, then homosexuality is not an immutable trait'.

Unfortunately, Dr Chin's conclusion is a skyscraper erected upon a foundation of straw. Dr Spitzer's study does not support Dr Chin's claim that homosexuality is not immutable because the sample population was not random but specially hand-picked for a special purpose.

Sadly, this is a mistake that is made so often by non-specialists that Dr Spitzer himself was compelled to respond. On May 21, 2001, the Wall Street Journal published a commentary by Dr Spitzer about his own study where he said (verbatim):

'In reality, change should be seen as complex and on a continuum.

'Some homosexuals appear able to change self-identity and behavior, but not arousal and fantasies; others can change only self-identity; and only a very few, I suspect, can substantially change all four.

'I suspect the vast majority of gay people would be unable to alter by much a firmly established homosexual orientation.

'I did not conclude that all gays should try to change, or even that they would be better off if they did.'

In other words, just because one person among millions might possibly be able to change his intrinsic sexual orientation and attractions after years of therapy, it does not therefore mean that everyone else is able to (or should even try, given the potential destructive consequences of failure). After all, can you imagine what it would take to make a red-blooded straight man stop being attracted to a Playboy centrefold?

Lastly, I will turn again to Dr Spitzer's commentary to address the issue of equal treatment (not protection, mind you!) for homosexual people:

'My study concluded with an important caveat: that it should not be used to justify a denial of civil rights to homosexuals, or as support for coercive treatment.

'Gay rights are a completely separate issue, and defensible for ethical reasons.'

I could not have said it any better myself.

Lee Jin Hian

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3 Comments:

  • to dr alan chin: intuitively, and by common sense, we know there is no reason for gay men to be more promicuous than straight men. The perceived 'greater' promiscuity lies in one crucial difference: male-female relationships are accepted and endorsed by society, hence more safeguards, including legal safeguards (eg. marriage contract, social pressure, religious teachings etc) against promicuous behaviour. In other words, there is greater pressure on the straight guys (and gals) to behave themselves and not be too openly promiscuous. Even that doesn't stop those who practise the straight lifestyle from engaging in extra-marital & casual sex and many straight relationships break up daily due to the 'promiscuity' of one or both partners. If we endorse gay relationships, and encourage (or even help) gay men to find suitable partners and settle down in faithful and committed relationships like the straights, such as by granting legal recognition in the form of marriage or civil unions, dare we say gay men are more promiscuous? By criminalizing gay sex and denouncing stable gay relationships and despising the love that one gay man feels for his partner, we encourage promiscuity, not discourage. Men are men, gay or straight, all have sexual desires, and there will always be some who prefer to play around with different partners, and some who want to commit themselves to a more stable relationship.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 19, 2007 5:52 pm  

  • It's nothing to do with prosmiscuity..it's the result of religion and culture. The more 'militant' the gay community appears to be, the greater resistance there will be to change.

    The bottomline is whether Singaporeans are prepared to accept homosexual activity as acceptable in our society. The same argument can be extended to pornography and prostitution. There is no reason to criminalize activities between mutually consenting adults, is there?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At May 22, 2007 4:49 am  

  • The revised Penis code is a butt joke everywhere. Anal sex is primarily a domain of gay people cos they dun have fannies. By legalising anal sex between heterosexual couples and not for same, it's outright discrimination and heresy! If the moral majority of Singaporeans are "conservative" (my foot..:P), where they quote Bibles, Scriptures, Koran or the phone book, that sex is for procreation purposes only, then why allow anal sex at all for any sexes for that matter? What's next? Fisting 101 for newly weds too? Geez.

    The biggest display throughout history of bias and injustice stems from FEAR and INSECURITY. Men predominantly are a bias creature. Only the truly enlightened and challenged realise that all men are equal and only thru love help and nurture of his fellow brother/sister can this world achieve true harmony and peace and growth.

    The most startling revelation is this; Are straight people so insecure that their own God given natural sexual orientation will immediately change or be tempted upon non crimminalising gay union? If so, let's crimminalise sex with spiders and then de-crimminalise it. Perhaps then, that can finally credence to someone's moral wisdom when I tell you to go FxxK Spiders !
    God help us all then.

    By Anonymous Michael, At May 24, 2007 8:20 am  

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