By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
A 5,000 strong crowd of protestors, made up of various and seemingly unconnected groups, paraded through central Lisbon on Saturday in support of the family and against same-sex civil partnerships.
Among the crowd were representatives of Catholic and Protestant religious groups, Evangelical churches, extreme right-wing neo-Nazis waving black flags, scouts, students and pro-family lobby groups.
At first sight, they were all united in one single aim: the support of the family and family values and opposition to same sex civil partnerships. They also insisted on a referendum.
But many of them seemed somewhat confused between the difference between a religious celebration of marriage in the traditional sense of the word in a church and a civil partnership conducted in a registry office to confer the same kind of legal rights and status on committed same sex partnerships that the rest of society enjoys under the laws of the secular Republican state.
They also seemed to imagine, somewhat worryingly, that, somehow, conferring the same legal rights through a civil partnership would undermine the family and encourage people to become gay or bisexual.
Of course, whether you believe that being gay is a lifestyle choice or part of our inherent or genetic make-up, none has ever been proved one way or the other.
But I find it hard to believe that someone who is essentially attracted to members of the opposite sex is now, because of this law, going to suddenly wake up tomorrow and say “Oh, I think I’ll be gay from now on!”
Current sociological and statistical studies reveal that, in Portugal, only around three per cent of the population is gay or has experienced homosexual tendencies and acted on them. This hardly constitutes undermining and threatening the family.
I rather think that the introduction of effective birth control, women managing careers and economic considerations are far more to blame for a falling birth rate and hence an undermining of the family in Western civilisation.
Also, I suspect, one in three marriages ends in divorce or separation because most modern liberated women are no longer prepared to put up with the kind of legal possession and adultery their mothers and grandmothers put up with a generation or two ago.
Of course, in a liberal democracy, everyone had the right to protest and voice an opinion. This I agree with wholeheartedly.
But some of the bigoted preconceptions that I heard on Saturday were frankly worrying and have no basis, either scientific or statistical, to back them up.
Do we really want to turn back the clock and force gay men and women underground, to live double lives in fear?
Providing we are not hurting other people, why should these groups object? Just think of the loss to humanity in terms of art, literature, fashion, cinema, theatre and other creative sciences if homosexuals were removed from the face of the earth.
In a modern democracy, we should, I hope, exercise a little tolerance and understanding even if the way another chooses, or has to live their life, is difficult for us to personally comprehend.
And the other question is this: statistically speaking, some of those 5,000 on that march will have gay children… Is that the kind of unacceptance and intolerance they would show them?
Do you have a view on this controversial subject? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]
“I am personally here because I really value the family. Today it seems to me that the family is seen in a different way. I see it as father, mother and children. We are not here to be against anybody in particular. We are here for the family and the reason why is because we believe that marriage is, and has been for thousands of years, between a man and a woman.” (Sidila Harvey)
“They (the gay lobbies) have had their say and right to demonstrate, now it’s our turn, because what we are arguing for is in the natural order of things – being gay is against nature. It’s not natural.” (Maria)
“They (gay people) can be together but they shouldn’t be able to get married. I don’t hate gay people; it’s not their fault that they are gay. But they shouldn’t be allowed to be the basis of society. If you allow this then people will start realising that it’s ok to come out and be gay or bisexual. It’s not right!” (Marriage & Citizens Platform)