There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
(I dreamed a dream, from the musical Les Miserables)
There was a time not that long ago when society was divided into men, women and perverts. We were subdivided into heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals and perverts. Homosexuals and lesbians were left out in the shadows and the dark alleys, but we were warned about them. We passed laws that protected the normal people and punished the perverts.
Life was simple as long as we lumped together anyone we considered to be sexual deviants as perverts. It was a great all-encompassing word
The generally accepted definition of a pervert is someone whose sexual behaviour is regarded as abnormal and unacceptable. But the obvious question is what is “normal?,” what is “unacceptable?” and who decides this?
Thankfully in most western or liberal thinking countries, lesbians and homosexuals are no longer looked on as perverts. They have been allowed out of the closet and are now widely accepted as normal respected members of society. However it may come as a shock to many that there are still a total of 73 countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) people. This is according to a revised list issued by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA.
It is mindboggling to think that there are ten countries in the world who still have the death penalty on their statute books for gay sex. They deserve to be listed here as Iran and Saudi Arabia who carry out executions, Sudan and Yemen where no recent executions have been reported, Nigeria and Somalia where such laws are on their books in part of the country but no verified executions for homosexual activity are reported, and Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan and Quatar where no executions have been reported.
This list is not complete without mentioning the United States where anti-sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as far back as 2003, but they are still on the statute books in 13 states (Donald trump looks like he is going to allow this situation to continue) ; Russia which enacted an anti-“gay propaganda” law in 2013 prohibiting any positive mention of homosexuality in the presence of minors, including online (Vladamir Putin seems anxious to maintain and promote this anti Gay sentiment) and Lithuania, which has a similar law. In 2015, Lithuania considered but has not yet adopted a further law that would impose fines for any public display that “defies traditional family values.”
Since agreeing in many countries that homosexual behaviour is normal and acceptable, the world has moved on to far more complex and previously unexplored questions about sex and sexuality. People talked about the sexual revolution in the 1960s but for most of us today’s society is a different world completely.
The internet and social media have broken so many social taboos, have brought so many new questions about sexuality to the surface. Social media such as Twitter and Tumblr allows anything to be openly discussed, no matter how sexually explicit or purely minority interest it was in the past. Facebook still frown on open discussion or displays of sexuality or nudity because of their young age profile, but amazingly they have introduced a list of 50 gender options: for their members including being Adrogynous, Bigender, Cisgender, Gender variant, non-binary, Pangender, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex and Gender nonconforming.
For most people the mind boggles. It was so simple when all these strangely named people were lumped together as perverts but now we’re forced to confront the reality of diversity in the world and come up with new answers.