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This is the first I ever heard of the "assumption" that homosexuals choose their orientation. My careful study of the Bible -- okay :-) my haphazard skimming, geez, gimme a break! -- shows absolutely nothing about choosing to have sexual desires of any sort. The Bible speaks only of what to do with those desires we realize we have.

There is no small controversy over how homosexual desire arises. Is is it innate (perhaps genetic), learned somehow, or what? I've never heard anyone admit, "It was then I decided to have homosexual desires." --Ed Poor

I agree that it's a ridiculous theory, but there are vocal conservative christians in the US who hold this position, blaming gays for their "wrong choices" and trying to reform them. These views are probably irrelevant or non-existant elsewhere, (I certainly haven't heard them in 25 years of living in Germany) and that should be mentioned in the article. --AxelBoldt
I believe that the argument is something along the lines of: "Although we may covet a neighbors's goods, it would be wrong to act upon these impulses." Similarly some would argue that we have a duty not to act on homosexual or other "unGodly" desires.
Right, it's such a ridiculous theory that it's probably a staw man argument. After you knock down that straw man, you can say that having conceded that I didn't choose to be homosexual, surely you must see that I was born that way. I think this is the fallacy of the excluded middle. --Ed Poor

I have never seen anything to suggest that the following sentence is true.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam have always assumed that homosexuals choose their sexual orientation.

The only thing I've ever heard from any of the monotheistic religions about homosexuality and "choosing" is that people have a moral obligation to choose not to perform homosexual acts. The quoted sentence is more likely a straw man, but I'll let it alone while I follow Taw's advice.


As a philosopher, the following is very interesting to me:

the notion that sexual identities such as 'homosexuality', 'heterosexuality' or 'bisexuality' have any objective existence, as opposed to being a social construction.

This is supposed to be, I imagine, a radical thing to say. But I'm not sure what it even means. It seems to me that social constructions always, unless they are totally arbitrary (which they almost never are), grounded in some facts. For example, the notion of homosexuality might very well be a social construction, in the simple, humble, uncontroversial (!) sense that we wouldn't have the concept of homosexuality if we hadn't invented it. It's not an innate concept. But it hardly follows from that that there is no objective basis on which to apply the concept. For instance, it seems we can have a perfectly objective basis on which to notice that people are sexually attracted to members of the same sex. (E.g., we might use hidden webcams in their bedrooms...er, scratch that thought.) On the other hand, if Foucault's point is that homosexuality is a "social construct" in the sense that the behavior is chosen (one thinks of the radical freedom of the existentialists) and not something to which some people have a genetic, perhaps in some cases irresistible disposition, he'll be disagreeing with many scientists, or so the authors of our homosexuality say. If neither of those are what Foucault means by saying that homosexuality (etc.) is "merely" a social concept and not "objective," then I can't figure out what he means.

Now, I don't intend to get into an argument about all this. I just think I'm saying some pretty obvious stuff, so that I can say the following: has anyone replied to Foucault and the others who make such points as I have above? If yes, for pity's sake, please add a reply into the article If not, too bad. Perhaps we could add: "Most trained philosophers in English-speaking countries pretty much ignore Foucault, however." That would be both accurate and relevant, I imagine... --LMS

Without having read Foucault (even though I think I should) I would interpret the "social construction" as follows: society wants to neatly divide people into (bad) homosexuals and (good) heterosexuals, forcing everybody to pick their side, while in reality it's a spectrum with everybody being a little bit of both (mostly based on the people they meet and like), some more on one side than on the other. Akin to the criticism of the "race" concept I would imagine, which society wants to define but biologists can't find an objective basis for. --AxelBoldt