Homophobia in Africa

It can be very depressing to read the news. The ethics and legality regarding homosexuality should be one of the simplest questions to resolve. No one’s personal autonomy is undermined and it has no negative effects on anyone who isn’t involved. It’s an entirely ethical practice and there is no reason for it to be illegal. Yet that’s the case in so much of Africa, with Nigeria recently making it illegal for homosexuals to even hold a meeting. A Ugandan anti-gay law was recently blocked by the President, which sounds like a positive step. However, it turns out that he blocked it because he thinks gays are defective and need to be helped to overcome it rather than being thrown in jail or killed. And, in Zambia, the government has rejected calls to provide condoms to prisoners to prevent the spread of STDs, asking, “What are they going to be used for?” The power of wilful ignorance. Continue reading

The road to hell

What is legal and what is ethical are two different things. It should be obvious but the two are often conflated. During Apartheid, certain beaches were reserved for Whites only and mixed marriages were illegal. At that time, something which was unethical was legal and something which was ethical was illegal. We are less inclined to look at the present and our own actions in the same way and, of course, even when we do we are unlikely to decide our own actions are unethical. We also seldom think through all the possible outcomes of a particular course of action and what effects it could have on other people. There is a reason we have the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Continue reading

The UK porn block and the concept of obscenity

I made a passing reference the to the UK’s new plan to block all porn but I decided that it, and obscenity in general, required a more thorough examination. In short, David Cameron feels that UK internet service providers need to block all porn by default to protect children. In short, again, that idea is stupid. It’s stupid partially because it will not work and partially because the mindset behind it is one that should not be accepted. Continue reading

One step backwards for rights in SA

South Africa is certainly a country with contradictions. Most obviously, there is the fact that part of the population lives in a first world situation while another part lives in a third world situation but, beneath that, there is also the sharp contrast between people’s views. For example when I spoke about the good parts of my home city, I mentioned that South Africa was the fifth country in the world, and first in Africa, to legalise gay marriage. In fact such a tolerant legal attitude was in stark contrast to many other African countries. Continue reading

Hate Speech

I said yesterday that there was some disagreement about hate speech and that I would offer my thoughts. The issue came up with regards to principle four of the Free Speech Debate project.

We speak openly and with civility about all kinds of human difference.

Jeremy Waldron expressed his support for legislation limiting hate speech on the grounds that it is harmful to people in vulnerable groups by lowering their status in the eyes of the public, creating a poisonous atmosphere and intimidating them. I disagree and think there is no place for laws that prevent hate speech, only for laws that are designed to emphasise reason and protect against calls for harm. Continue reading

I am…

About four years ago I came across a series of lines starting with “I am” (and two with “we are”) and the request for them to be shared. I thought they were something worth keeping in mind and I printed them out and kept them on my wall. Today I’ve taken the page down and so I’m sharing them on here for everyone else to read. Read them, share them and do your part to stop the hatred. Continue reading

If you disagree with the the ‘divine’ position then you should leave that religion

If you’re a Catholic you need to accept that the Vatican and the Pope control the church’s official position on matters. These decisions are supposedly inspired by god and are not up for debate.

The Pope has recently spoken out against calls for female priests. If you are a Catholic that wants to see equality you need to accept that you are in opposition to your religion. Either, as Catholics are supposed to believe, the Pope is infallible or you are not truly Catholic because you do not believe what is required of you. If you don’t believe then you need to stop calling yourself Catholic just because of tradition or loyalty to the idea. Continue reading

International Fetish Day essay

BDSM SymbolThis year, the 20th of January was the fourth International Fetish Day, building off the 2008 National Fetish Day in the UK. The purpose is both to raise awareness and support for the BDSM community and create opposition to laws concerning extreme pornography. I’m mostly going to focus on the laws as it shows what I’d consider governments going to far, i.e. attempting to regulate people’s private lives. Continue reading