AS Sexual Ethics: Homosexuality



Homosexuality is a term that applies to both men and women who have sexual feelings towards members of the same sex and identify themselves as being homosexual. In the UK today there is a growing acceptance of homosexuality and, in legal terms, homosexuality is regarded as the same as heterosexuality, as same-sex relationships between consenting adults (over 16) in private is fine.

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Facts and Figures

  • The International AIDs charity "Avert" estimates that about 9% of women and 5% of men have had sexual experiences with a member of the same sex.
  • In 1957 the Wolfenden report, (named after Lord Wolfenden) was published. It advised the British Government that homosexuality should not be illegal. Ten years later in the 1967 sexual offences bill, homosexualty was decriminalised as long as it was between two consenting men over 21 in private.
  • Same sex marriage was legalised in March 2014.
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Causes of Homosexuality (1)

  • Sigmund Freud claimed that homosexuality is a personality disorder resulting from a persons failure to deal with repressed issues of sexuality from infancy. He claimed to have traced the causes of homosexuality back to the relationship of the individual and his / her parents.
  • This view was supported by Elizabeth Moberly whom wrote, in Homosexuality: a New Christian Ethic, that homosexuality stems from " difficulties in the parent child relationships, especially in the earlier years of life."
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Causes of Homosexuality (2)

  • More recently many researchers believe that homosexuality may be a result of the imbalance of hormones or a genetic predisposition. Scientists have attempted to find a "homosexuality gene" which could prove that homosexuality is a natural condition.
  • However, critics argue that the discovery of a homosexual gene could lead to more ethical dilemmas as it could cause parents wishing to "screen" their childeren for homosexuality and eventually attempt find a cure for it, treating it as an illness.
  • In Sexual Deviation Anthony Storr wrote that if there was any proof that homosexuality was a result of circumstances  it "impies a critisim of themselves or their families and usually of both"
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Roman Catholics

Roman Catholics believe homosexuality is contrary to the will of God. In the Roman Catholic's Declaration 1975 on sexual ethics they wrote: they call homosexual acts "a serious depravaty" and "a sad consequence of rejecting God".

In the more recent 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church they write that homosexuals should be treated with respect and discrimination should be avoided. Homosexual feelings are not wrong but putting them into practice is. Homosexual actions are wrong as they are contrary to natural law as they do not allow reproduction.

Homosexuals are then encouraged to pray and seek help, leading a life of chastity.

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Criticisms of Roman Catholic's Views

  • Burton Leiser argues that if homosexual actions are wrong as they do not allow for reproduction then surely a marriage between elderly or infertile couples whom cannot reproduce must also be wrong. 
  • Arcigay, an italian Gay Rights orginisation suggest the Catholic church teaches violence and discrimination against homosexuals. It estimates that each year, 150 Italian gay men are murdered in Italy.
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Church of England

The official position of the Church of England was established at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, which declared there were four positions from which homosexuality could be viewed:

  • Homosexuality is a disorder from which Christians should seek deliverance
  • Homosexual relationshions should be celebate
  • Whilst exclusive homosexual relationships fall short of God's best for man, they are to be prefered over promiscuous ones
  • The church should fully accept homosexual relationships as well as accepting homosexuals into the priesthood.
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Church of England Case Studies

In July 2003 Canon Jeffrey John, an openly celibate homosexual priest, withdrew his acceptance to be the Bishop of Reading in order to prevent a worldwide split in the Anglican church over homosexual priests. This caused great division in the church.

  • Dr Phillip Giddings of Greyfriars church: "We are not free to discard what is said in the bible, however unpopular"
  • Reverand Colin Slee: "Canon John has become the victim of appauling prejudice and abuse"
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Bible Quotes Against Homosexuality

  • Leviticus 18:22: "Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." 
  • Leviticus 20:13: "If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense." 
  • In the new testiment, Paul included homosexuality in his list of moran wrongdoings "Neither the sexually immoral... nor homosexual offenders ... will inherit the kingdom of God"
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Bible Quotes For Homosexuality

  • "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:12
  • "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”" Galations 5:14
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Scholars and Morality

  • D.S. Bailey suggests that biblical views on homosexuality are based on ancient cultures and not relevant today
  • John Harris argues that sexual activities are an issue of manners rather than ethics, due to the fact homosexuality does not cause harm to society as a whole it should be free from moral judgement.
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Libertarianism and Utiliarianism


  • Sexual relationships are fine as long as they are between people over the legal age limit and consenting.
  • Often follow the harm principle (J.S.Mill)  which is that no harm must be done to the other party or third parties. 


  • Sexual relationships are fine as long as they are between people over the legal age limit and consenting.
  • Greatest happiness for greatest number
  • Bentham (act util) would argue that homosexuality is acceptable because it presents little or no harm - of course if pain outweighs pleasure, it's not okay.
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