I start with a caveat that not everyone who opposes same-sex unions (or denies the existence of a homosexual orientation as natural or normal) is a bigot. I have met many that come from a position of ignorance, some from pure religious, social, or political conditioning over a long period of time. There are many others however with no other arguments than that people different from them should just not be allowed to have any rights, privileges, or aspirations. They come from positions of fear, loathing, ignorance, heterosexual privilege, conservatism, and bigotry. It is for them that this list might be useful. They are questions and arguments I’ve had from those to whom the support of gay rights is unthinkable.
1. Being gay is “unnatural”. Have you seen a gay animal?
Dextrocardia is unnatural (a congenital condition in which people have their hearts on the right side of the chest), among many “unnatural” human conditions that we have not legalized against. And about gay animals? Quite a lot, actually!
2. Being gay is unAfrican.
So is kissing, oral sex (and what has been popularly glorified in literature as the position 69), anal sex between heterosexual married couples, and every other sex act that “civilization” brought to us. If you’re offended by homosexuality, are you also offended by these unAfrican sex acts?
3. Being gay is bad because it doesn’t lead to procreation and children. (This is one of the popular arguments.)
Neither does celibacy, by the way. (And neither does kissing, oral sex, etc.) Do you want a law insisting that EVERYONE in the country MUST have children? What of a law to mandate all married people to have children by force? How about telling them how many children to have?
4. Alright, gay people exist, we agree. But why do they want rights like everyone else?
Good thing you admitted that. It’s a first step. However, the question answers itself. Why not? (In Nigeria, at least, what I know about the matter is not that gay people “want rights”, but that they don’t want their human rights taken away. 14 years in jail for being who you are is pretty excessive.)
5. Legalizing gay marriage will make it acceptable to be gay. Would you want you child to be gay? If your parents chose to be gay, would you have been born?
Legalizing alcohol hasn’t turned all kids in Nigeria to alcoholics. Legalizing against kissing or oral sex won’t make it go away either since it usually takes place behind close doors. Secondly, being gay isn’t a choice, just like being straight isn’t. I didn’t choose to be straight. Gay people won’t disappear because of the legislation either. If my parents were gay, they clearly wouldn’t have married each other (and maybe I’d have been better for it).
6. Gay marriage will ruin the institution of marriage, and destroy civilization if everyone becomes gay.
I am a married man. I do not see how giving other men and women a chance to pursue happiness of marriage with each other will take away from my own happiness. And about civilization getting destroyed, I don’t understand that. People don’t become gay. I lived in the US where gay unions are legal, and I never became gay as a result, nor developed any inclination to become one. Gay people exist. I’ve met a number of them. So do straight people. I have colleagues and friends who are gay. I also have colleagues and friends who are straight. The didn’t “influence” an orientation change in me, just like having smoking friends didn’t turn me into a smoker. Having white-skinned friends didn’t turn me white either. Straight people will keep having children (so don’t worry about the world dying off), and gay people will keep dating each other, and NOT having children. Everyone wins.
7. I hate the idea of gay sex. I can’t imagine it. It’s disgusting. Think about it. Does it make sense to you?
I don’t imagine gay sex either. I also can’t imagine anal sex between man-woman couples. That’s why I don’t do it. However, I don’t want a law against it, as it does nothing to remove from the intimacy I share with my own spouse. There are clearly those who can imagine it, and who enjoy it. Their happiness doesn’t irritate me. Why does it irritate you?
8. Marriage is between ONE man and ONE woman!
Says who? The bible? Not really.
9. Being gay isn’t Christian.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu clearly doesn’t think so. And neither does the Pope, anyway (talk of being holier than the Pope). In any case, homophobia/intolerance isn’t Christian either.
10. You have been corrupted by the West. That’s why you’re arguing this way.
Draconian laws against gays, minorities, etc also had its heyday in the United States. For a number of years, blacks couldn’t even marry out of their race. Unbelievable as it sounds, there are no written accounts of ancient African societies penalizing people on the basis of their sexual orientation. (At least I haven’t read of any). So, in an ironical way, homophobia is the real pernicious Western influence.
Update: If you’re straight and you still need convincing about the horrific nature of the new law in Nigeria, there is a great article here, titled The Straight Nigerian’s Guide to the New Anti-Gay Law. Read it.