I've heard three arguments to justify why homosexuality is not a disorder of 'natural' sexuality: It is perceived as 'natural for them' by some people; homosexual sex is consensual and not harmful or abusive; and animals have been observed engaging in homosexual sex. None of these arguments convinces me since it seems to me that: everyone's sexual desires appear as natural for them (however weird or extreme they might be); consent and lack of abuse don't equate to 'natural'; and what some animals sometimes do could also be a disorder of their natural behaviour. What are the other arguments about the naturalness of homosexuality? What about the argument that male and female are naturally 'complementary' - physically, psychologically and sociologically?

Perhaps the first question worth answering would be what one means here by "natural". What is "natural" can be opposed to many different things: "artificial" might be one, for example, but that doesn't seem to be quite what one has in mind when one asks whether homosexuality is "natural". Indeed, I'm inclined to think you don't know very well yourself what you mean by the word: hence all the "scare quotes". Another question is why it should matter. If homosexuality is not "natural", does that mean it must be wrong? One might well suggest, and it has indeed been suggested, that sex with birth control is not "natural" either, but, despite the wel-known views of some, many of us wouldn't infer anything about the moral status of such expressions of sexuality from the fact, even if it is one, that it is not "natural". And sure, there are plenty of senses in which men and women are "complementary". Among them, the obvious one is that it takes a man and a woman to make a child. But it's hard to see what's...

Despite all the modern protestations of liberalism and political correctness, I have yet to meet a straight person who is fully comfortable with the idea of homosexuality. They claim to have no problem with the lifestyle, but inevitably succumb to negative gay stereotypes or latent discomfort (people are, I find, generally more accepting of me as a lesbian, but admit that they find the idea of gay men bizarre/wrong/funny etc). The increasing number of "out" gays seems only to have had an effect on the legal system, rather than people's general morality (and I do speak generally, from personal and first-hand experience alone). Why is it that the lessening gap between percentages of gay and straight people is not accompanied by similarly decreased prejudice? Imagine that the number of gay people outnumbered the straight population (unlikely, but I maintain that all humans are essentially bisexual) - would the minority straight population still see the gay population as "abnormal" due to the fact that they...

I'm not sure what the philosophical question is here. I suppose it may be true that the questioner hasn't met "a straight person who is fully comfortable with the idea of homosexuality". I'm not really in a position to say. But maybe she should get out more. (Or visit my church.) Or maybe her standards are too high, and she is confusing an inability to see life as a gay man "from the inside" with "full comfort". I confess I'm not really in a position to imagine being gay. It's not something I've tried extremely hard to do, but, I don't know, it's not something I think I have much hope of doing either. Any more than I think I can really understand, from the inside, what it's like to be female, or a black American (let alone what it's like to be a bat). But I don't think that makes me uncomfortable with gay men. It's just that, on a certain level, I find it hard to relate to some of the gays and lesbians I know. There are aspects of their experience that are very far beyond me.

Why is it that homosexuality is not accepted in general? In society there is only the role model of man and woman to build a family and that the family is the foundation of the society. But has this necessarily to be so? Is there an ethical or philosophical argument to not accept homosexuality?

See questions 1223 and 1221 for some relevant reflections. Your question is slightly different, perhaps, but I'm not sure. The other questions largely concern same-sex relationships, whereas you talk of "homosexuality", which is either a form of behavior---having sex with someone of the same gender---or a "sexual orientation"---being inclined to be sexually attracted to members of one's own gender. These are very different from anything involving relationships , even (for lack of a better word) "romantic" ones, which may or may not involve sex and do not, in any event, need to be defined by it. For this reason, I'd much prefer to speak of people who are homoamorous : people who are inclined to develop feelings of romantic love towards members of their own gender and, as a result, inclined to become involved in romantic relationships with people of their own gender. Of course, now that we've distinguished the sexual question from the question of relationships, we can see clearly that,...

It was suggested ( that, among other criteria, an incestuous couple would have to be infertile in order for their relationship to be considered morally permissible. This is presumably because inbreeding allows for the heightened expression of recessive, deleterious genes. What is the significant difference, however, between an incestuous couple, and a couple of unrelated individuals both of whom have family histories (i.e., genetic predispositions) to chronic illnesses?

I think the really deep question here is why incestuous relationships seem so morally problematic, quite independently of the child-bearing issues. Here are a couple thoughts. The case of parent-child incest is clearly the most problematic, even when the child is of age. And here, I think the source of concern is power. It's not that it seems utterly impossible for the child, in such cases, to give truly informed consent, but one might wonder how free (or well informed) that consent could be. It's not unlike, that is to say, supervisor-employee or teacher-student relationships, except, of course, that the parent-child relationship is far more intimate and, as a result, far more is at stake for the child. What, then, about sibling-sibling relationships? Here, there probably aren't the same kinds of concerns as with parent-child relationships. But, continuing the work-world analogy, it is perhaps worth noting that many companies bar relationships between co-workers as well as between supervisors and...

Why does society consider it moral (as embodied in its laws) for a 60 year old man to be in a sexual relationship with an 18 year old girl, but considers it immoral for a 25 year old man to have sex with a 17 year old girl? Isn't that just ridiculous?!

The laws concerning statutory rape—laws that make it a crime for anyone to have sex with a person under a certain age—are justified by the belief that people under a certain age cannot give informed consent to sex. It seems reasonable to suppose that this is true, though the age in question might be a matter of debate and, in fact, the laws in different countries, and even in different US states, set different ages. So one might regard it as silly that the law in some particular jurisdiction regards a 17-year-old as incapable of informed consent, and I'd agree with you. But it's not at all obvious what the age-limit ought to be. That said, however, it is important to note that it is not the relative ages of the parties to the act that are relevant but their absolute ages. The reason "society" sees nothing worthy of legal intervention in a sexual relationship between a 60-year-old and an 18-year-old is that it regards the 18-year-old as capable of informed consent.

If someone (person A) was put into the position to consider someone (person B) as a possible romantic interest, is it ethical to consider person B's lack of physical attractiveness a kind of automatic off/no switch for person A's consideration? - Michael f

As Alex notes, this question is pretty well answered elsewhere. But please note: Saying that there is no moral bar to considering physical attractiveness when evaluating someone as a potential romantic interest says nothing about how heavily it is wise to weigh physical attractiveness. It is not, in particular, to say that people do not give undue weight to this matter.

'Zoophiles', as they call themselves, often claim that committing sexual acts with animals is okay because animals are capable of consenting, either by sexual displays (lifting tails, humping hapless human legs, etc), or by not biting/fighting back, or by allowing the human access to them, so to speak. The problem I have with this is that an animal can't attribute the same idea to sex as a human can - for a human sex may be bound up with love and other types of emotions where by and large for animals it is another biological duty. In my opinion that would mean that there is no real consent between an animal and a human because the two are essentially contemplating a different act. Am I missing something here? And is there any validity in the idea that it is wrong to engage in sex with animals because for most humans it is intuitively wrong? If it doesn't really harm anyone - if the animal is unscathed - does that make the whole argument pointless?

It seems to me that it is sufficient if there is a description of the act under which both parties consent to it. (I find myself tempted to say: ...and under which they both perform it. That may not be necessary but probably is.) Whether there are other descriptions under which one or another of the two parties has not consented to it seems irrelevant (especially if it is not a description under which they perform it): It will always be possible to find such descriptions. (Note that this is different from saying that there are descriptions under which one of the parties would withhold consent. Whether the existence of such descriptions would be relevant is a more difficult question.) If so, then the fact that X and Y, in the first example, happen to think of the consequences of their encounter in different terms does not seem to undermine their consenting to: having a sexual encounter. (And that, of course, is a description under which both of them perform the act.) There are undoubtedly...

Why is it considered morally wrong for a man or a woman to have a romantic or sexual relationship with someone significantly younger than themselves?

I don't know that it is considered morally wrong, simply in virtue of the age difference. It's true, to be sure, that people are often inclined to speculate about the reasons a younger person might be involved with an older one, but such speculation is typically just gossip. It's also true that such relationships can pose certain kinds of challenges. But, as I said, I don't know of any general reason to regard such relationships as immoral simply in virtue of the age difference. Of course, it is another matter when we are talking about minors, but I don't take the question to concern that kind of relationship.

Would you agree with this statement? Being gay is a choice.

There is very good evidence now that "sexual orientation" has alarge genetic component. Whether it is genetically determined (orbetter, to what extent) is not clear, but most "gay" people reporthaving known of their "orientation" at a fairly young age. So even ifthere are also strong environmental components, that certainly does notimply that one's "sexual orientation" is chosen nor, for that matter,that it could be changed. There is also very good evidence that "sexualorientation" lies on a continuum, and that "gay" and "straight" arejust the two ends of that continuum, with most people falling somewherealong it. I therefore doubt very much that people who lie at the "gay"end choose their "orientation" any more than do the people at the"straight" end. And honestly: Do those of us who are "straight" haveany sense at all that we chose so to be? If not, why should "gay" folkbe any different? As you'll gather from the scare-quotes, I have a problem with the terminology I've been using. Let me explain...