Sexual Orientation and the Right to Privacy


Over the centuries the world has existed, all the humans who are not heteronormal (normal in sexual orientation) in the strict definition of the word have been persecuted and their dignity has been stolen simply because of their sexual orientation. The fear of being discovered and the need to constantly hide how you truly feel has been a constant mental pressure on all of them.

Yet, in ancient times, when perhaps we weren’t as ‘evolved’, the attitude towards at least homosexuality in many parts of the world was far more liberal. In early modern Egypt, the Siwa Oasis was actually an oasis for homosexual couples, and it was not just accepted, but encouraged. It is generally accepted that in Ancient China, homosexuality was popular and practiced by kings and peasants alike. Even in the case of ancient Indian texts, such as the Kamasutra, ideas of transcending gender and having feelings for the same sex are often referred to. So, what happened to us in the many years since, that we became more accepting of everything but the LGBT and the ace communities? What caused this overwhelming change in the popular imagination that caused Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant minds in history to say –

“I'm afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future,

Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think."

Turing’s story of being publicly humiliated for his orientation and being banished from England is a deeply hurtful one, and should have incited a lot more discussion than it did. I think a major reason for this change in the public mindset came from one man and his teachings – the man who basically created his own version of the story of Genesis in the Holy Bible, the version that most of us are familiar with today. I am talking about, of course, St. Augustine.

St. Augustine’s beliefs about original sin and how it resides in sex led to a change in ideas that meant that every Christian, and every place that a Christian country colonised, began to think of sex and love as something to be hidden and a sin against God. The ‘enlightened saint’ who believed that sex and romantic love were evil, even for the process of procreation between man and wife, would have utterly condemned any other types of romantic relationships, people reasoned. And thus, started the movement to supress any ideas contrary to the popular imagination’s conception of heteronormativity.

The LGBT movement has become more and more powerful across the world, finally, over the last decade or so. Many countries around the world have legalised homosexual marriage. But many countries are still not accepting what they consider to be ‘depraved’ people. This calls into question another point. Is someone’s sexuality really something that any government or even the society has the authority to control or interfere in? Do the ideas of privacy apply to sexual orientation? It is a fair consideration that the right to privacy - being a fundamental right that cannot be infringed upon – should only be infringed upon by the government in cases of extreme exceptions, such as national security, harm to a third person, or evidence of a non-civil crime being committed. Thus, creating laws that encroach on this right, such as Section 377 in India, is a very problematic precedent that could lead to further government control of the citizens of the country.

Another important consideration is the fact that sexuality and sex are different ideas. Sex is a natural function of the body and serves to satisfy sexual desire. It is a choice. Sexuality is not. In such a case, there are further problems to deal with. Out of the LGBT and ace communities, the most accepted people today are homosexuals. But this acceptance seems to be conditional to their sexualisation, and their ostracization from their own gender. Every depiction of gay men or women in popular media such as shounen ai or shoujo ai manga in Japan, or on TV shows, shows them as these extremely attractive people who seem to be there more to serve the role of ‘eye-candy’ and to propagate the stereotypes they are associated with rather than any actual role. The idea of the ‘gay best friend’ for both guys and girls causes a lot of problems as well. But what is even more alarming, is that while girls are often fine with gay guys and guys are fine with lesbian girls, they always seem to avoid homosexual people of the same gender.

While talking about these communities, homosexual people and trans people are included, but the asexual community is often excluded. They are far better at fitting into society, so hardly any of them ever actually come out of the metaphorical closet. But they are also part of the LGBT community in their own way. Asexual people are those who experience little or no sexual attraction to other people. There are also several different orientations who are part of this community such as demisexuals who only experience sexual attraction after forming deep romantic attachments. These terms, and the wide-spread lack of knowledge about the existence of these communities cause a lot of problems for those children, teens and adults who do not know about them. If they themselves could identify as asexual, they might think that there is something wrong with them and might feel that they’re alone. If they don’t, they could discriminate against friends, classmates, work colleagues or anyone for being ‘weird’ because they do not understand the differences between them.

I would just like to end by pointing out that sexual orientation - just like height, race and nationality – is merely a distinction that we can make between people. But in the ideal society that we are always working towards building, there should not be any distinction between one life or the other. And this certainly should not be something the government can decide for you, just as they can’t decide how tall you are or what colour your skin is.