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Homosexuality on the rise!

According to reports from the Ministry of Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Majority of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases are reported due to male-to-male sex.

Dr. Ajith Karawita, Consultant Venereologist (STI, HIV medicine, and related sexual health, prevention and program sciences), President of the Sri Lanka College of Sexual Health and HIV Medicine (2015–2016) speaks to Serendib Today on Homosexuality and its causes.

What is meant by a homosexual?

Homosexual means the sexual attraction to the members of the same biological sex. I personally don’t like this word because this word has given prominence to the word “Sexual” forgetting their feelings and behaviours of emotional, loving and romantic part of the attraction. On the other hand, those attractions may or may not sometimes lead to physical sexual relationships.

Is homosexuality a mental illness? Can it be cured?

Once upon a time it had been a mental illness and had tried various treatments to change the brain chemistry. But with more and more understanding of the subject, it is no more considered as a mental illness. It is a part of the diversity of expression of sexuality.

But Homosexuality is an offence in Sri Lanka.

Out of the 195 countries in the world, 77 countries have laws against sexual relations between people of the same sex as depicted in the graph. Our part of the world is trapped in over 100 year’s old laws and those law controlled behaviours are now deeply embedded into our blood and muscles where we are struggling to come out of it. Although laws are there in Sri Lanka (Penal code 365/365A) they are currently inactive unless they are associated with some other unlawful acts.

Homosexuality is not accepted by our society

Do you mean that this world is for those people who have only heterosexual orientation? No definitely not. Homosexuals should not be considered as “Black Sheep”. The modern society needs to believe that everyone, regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, language, disability sexual orientation or any attribute is included as part of the whole. We cannot exclude anyone from society. We need to believe that differences among people are accepted and celebrated rather than viewed as a source of separation. International human rights law says “all individuals have an equal opportunity to make for themselves the lives that they are able to wish to have without being hindered or prevented by discrimination based on different attributes.

What is the cause for sexual attraction to people of one’s own sex?

I also cannot say its causes as 1, 2, 3 and there is no consensus among the scientific community about why some individuals attract same-sex people. A person’s sexual identity develops from the number of influences before, during and after birth. However, current understanding evidence that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice. It is a part of the biology determined by genetics. Researchers have proposed a chemical modification to the region of X chromosome (Xq28) as a cause of this. Furthermore, science suggests that those attributes pass on to the next generation. In 2012 in a scientific paper by Rice and his colleagues suggested that some marks are passed on from father to daughter or from mother to son. Specifically, they argued that inherited marks that influence a fetus’s sensitivity to

Testosterone in the womb might “Masculinize” the brains of girls and “Feminize” those of boys, leading to same-sex attraction.

But Doctor, homosexuality is going up in this country.

“Going up” is described as “Coming out” when the surrounding society put more pressure on homosexual behaviours then they are not expressing it and keep all feelings, emotions and romance to themselves. Some people migrate to other countries to express their real sexuality, some may find hidden relationships. However, when the societal pressure is relaxed, they are gradually starting to express it and it can be regarded plausibly as “Going up”

What can be prevention programs?

Do you mean about programmes to prevent homosexual orientation? No there are no programmes for that. Approximately 3–5% of Asian males are having a homosexual orientation. According to the Kinsey scale, sexual behaviours and attractions of humans can be very diverse and it can be from exclusively heterosexual to exclusive homosexuals and another group with no romantic attractions referred to as Asexual or Non-Sexual

The only programme I can think of now is to let them live respectfully without discriminating. Homophobia (hatred feelings of homosexuals) in the society keeps them away from disease prevention programmes leading to hidden epidemics. Because of societal pressure on the marriage, they do marriage while maintaining bisexuals (ambisexual) orientation which can lead sexually transmitted infections to spread into the general population.

Dr Ajith Karawita,

Consultant Venereologist, Teaching Hospital, Anuradhapura

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