The Impact of Religion on LGBTIQ Issues

Post 5 by Zhengzhi Chen

 

To gain some insights into the LGBTIQ issue from other people’s knowledge, I was asked to interview Marcella K. Handoko Kwee. With zero idea of Kwee’s points of view regarding this issue, I prepared a list of questions before the interview.

The Questions Prepared Before the Interview

1, Do you know what all the letters in ‘LGBTIQ’ stand for?

2, What do you know about LGBTIQ issues?

3, How relevant do you think these issues are to your life?

4, In my opinion, homophobia is related to sexism. Like in that outdated gender notion, female is the second gender. Any personality traits related to female are considered negative, which is the cultural base of people’s hate against feminine men. Do you agree with that? What do think about the relations between homophobia and sexism?

5, How do you reckon the mentality of homophics works? For example, is it just like other phobias, which are fear caused by ignorance and unawareness?

The Actual Interview

Chen (C): Do you know what all the letters in ‘LGBTIQ’ stand for?

Kwee (K): No.

C: L for lesbian, G for gay, B for bisexual, T for transgender, I for intersex, and Q for questioning. (realises this probably will not go well but still asks the second prepared question) So what do you know about LGBTIQ issues?

K: I agree that same-sex marriage should be legalised in Australia, but I also think religious people should be allowed to disagree with that and follow their own beliefs. Even if LGBTIQ were an illness, religions still wouldn’t cure it anyway, just like cancer. I do think LGBTIQ is an illness, which I learned from my local society, just like mental illnesses. We can do nothing about it because it’s an illness.

C: (realises he has to go completely out of plan) So you think LGBTIQ is an illness?

K: There must be something wrong with LGBTIQ’s mental health so they should seek professionally psychological help. It’s a mental illness, not a physical illness.

C: (tries hard to come up with new questions and remembers Kwee mentioned she learned about LGBTIQ from her local society) Tell me about your local society and how you learned about LGBTIQ.

K: I was born and raised in Indonesia. Indonesia is a muslim country and thus the common society doesn’t think same-sex marriage is morally appropriate. Everything has to do with religion. In Indonesia, if someone shows that s/he has this illness, they will hide this because they don’t want to get bullied by the society. I haven’t received any education about LGBTIQ. I think LGBTIQ know what they’re doing is wrong but they don’t know what to do with it. I’m a Christian and I’ve gained my knowledge of LGBTIQ from pastors at church.

C: What if one of your families came out as LGBTIQ? (This can count as another way of asking Prepared Question 3.)

K: I want my family to be happy so I would support their personal choices.

C: (How should I ask Prepared Question 4? Sexism? Glass Ceiling?) What do you think about Glass Ceiling?

K: I’ve never heard of Glass Ceiling. (after learning what that is) I don’t think it’s right.

C: (instead of asking about the cause/mentality of homophobia as planned in Prepared Question 5, asks about the cause of LGBTIQ) What do you think causes LGBTIQ?

K: I think there must be something wrong with the genes of feminine males and masculine females. It might be an illness. I think that can be affected by the environment. Like male fashion designers, become feminine due to the influence of the fashion industry.

The Task and the Feedback

From the interview, I learned how reality could be dramatically different from expectation. However, I was still proud that I somehow still managed to ask all the prepared questions (in different manners). I thought that simply getting herself a little more familiar with LGBTIQ would make a difference to Kwee’s thoughts about the LGBTIQ issues so I asked her to do a little online research on LGBTIQ. I interviewed her after she finished the task.

C: What have you done for the task I gave you?

K: I was wondering whether LGBTIQ was an illness like I thought so I Googled: ‘Is LGBTIQ an illness?’ I found an article Answers to Your Questions For a Better Understanding (American Psychological Association 2008), where some questions and answers on LGBTIQ are provided. For example, there is a question about what causes a person to have a particular ‘sexual orientation’. Those are interesting facts.

C: So what causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?

K: There is no exact reason that causes an individual to develop a heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual orientation. However, the biggest factors are genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences. Remember during our last interview I mentioned male fashion designers tended to appear and act like females? That is an example of the developmental and social influences. As for cultural influences, for example, religions in Indonesia include Islam, Christian (Protestant), Catholic, Hinduism , Buddhism and not so popular, Confucianism. They affect Indonesians’ views on LGBTIQ.

C: You mentioned that you had mainly learned about LGBTIQ from your pastor at Church, and now that you’ve learned a different opinion on the same topic from APA, do you still think what a pastor says is always right?

K: I myself would not say who is right and who is wrong since I have no strong relationship with anyone of the LGBTIQ community.

C: Ever since same-sex marriage was legalised in some countries, some ministers have refused to marry same-sex couples. Some restaurants have refused to serve LGBTIQ. And I remember you’ve mentioned in our last interview that religious people should be allowed to follow their own beliefs. So what do you think about the situations I’m talking about?

K: The reason that some ministers refuse to marry same-sex couples is that Christians think marrying a person of the same sex is unacceptable. It is like committing to big sin!

C: So if a restaurant should be allowed to refuse to serve LGBTIQ, should an atheistic restaurant be allowed to refuse to serve Christians, Muslims, etc.? What would you feel and think if a restaurant refused to serve you because of your personal belief?

K: I think they definitely have no right to refuse to serve those people who come to the restaurants. They just want to enjoy their life, eat and have fun. What is so wrong with that? Unless the restaurant is some kind of a holy place, such as a temple. But who knows?  Maybe one of the religious people is also part of LGBTIQ. We can’t tell. I am not saying that the religions are always right. It is just the matter of their hearts and their gods. That’s it.

C: What have you learned about LGBTIQ by finishing the task?

K: I have discovered that not everyone is religious. We have no rights to apply our beliefs to someone who does not share the same beliefs with us. Equality and freedom are the fundamental human rights for everyone, regardless of their identities and beliefs. LGBTIQ are wrong in my religion and I myself do not commit to LGBTIQ, so it should be fine, but there is no need to force other people to follow my belief. It is none of my business. Furthermore, LGBTIQ is definitely not an illness. It is just part of human experience in life. Nature plays complex roles in human bodies. ‘Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.’ Even scientists cannot conclude the exact causes of LGBTIQ.

Five Key Insights from this Task

  • Religions can have a strong impact on individuals’ beliefs and viewpoints, especially of LGBTIQ.
  • Scientists never conclude the exact causes of LGBTIQ. All the theories about the causes are possibilities, not factual exclusive answers.
  • There is a need of education about atheism. It is a factual, objective and logical world, which should be learned by everyone no matter what s/he believes.
  • I am an opinionated person and I like confronting people with different viewpoints from me.
  • There is still a long way to go for LGBTIQ activists and education is the key.

References

American Psychological Association 2008, Answers to Your Questions: For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality, Washington, DC, viewed 26 August 2016, <www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.pdf >.

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