Thursday, July 13, 2006

Should gays be banned?

Last week the Worship Centre Church of Samoa urged the Government of Samoa to consider criminalising and banning gay people from the country. The National Council of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Fepai Kolia, said that whilst they shared the Worship Centre Church's objections to homosexuality, they would not be calling for a ban, as it would transgress the boundary between church and state. This is an interesting comment from the Council, considering how heavily they trampled over that boundary in the case of the censor's banning of the Da Vinci Code. Reverend Kolia went on to state the "the Holy Bible condemnds homosexuality, which is a Western value (emphasis added)". Really?

Samoa has long accepted homosexuality in the form of fa'afafine. This has traditionally meant being effeminite and submitting oneself to a life of domestic responsibility. What Rereverend Kolia really means when he says that homosexuality is a Western value is that he finds the notion of a homosexual person being equal to a heterosexual one foreign. In other words, the idea of a masculine homosexual man is viewed as abnormal and an affront to heterosexuals.

Picking up the story, today's Observer asks, "Should gays be banned?" The people they asked had the following to say:
I think they should. To allow gay relationships in Samoa is like turning our lives back to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Being gay is not right and not normal. It is against our religion and it's evil. It should be banned.
It is a sin and it will bring a curse to this country. We've got to stand up and be vocal about this issue.
It is a sin to be attracted to a person of the same sex and we should not allow it here. We've got to be very careful that our children do not grow up in that kind of environment.

I'd love to see the Observer run a follow-up question asking people if fa'afafine should be banned as well. I think it would be quite a revealing question to ask. In the meantime, I'll have to be content with continuing to ponder the subtleties surrounding these - at times contradictory - understandings of homosexuality.


Tancred said...

Another example of christian missionaries spreading their message of hate around the world. I wonder what the pre missionary beliefs were like?

jt said...

Probably fairly similar, though obviously without as much spleen. As best I can tell, the idea of a man-who-fancies-other-men being masculine hasn't really existed here. Fa'afafine itself translates as "in the way of women" and it's the only word I've come across that describes people we would term homosexuals.