Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year, Same Old Sheep

Scientists at the Oregon State University are researching the causes of homosexuality in sheep. It seems about 10 percent of rams prefer to mount other rams, rather than ewes. The research initially focused on maximizing reproduction rates. Researchers have discovered that opening the rams' skulls and injecting hormones into them provides "considerable success" in getting the rams to get on the ewes.

Gay rights activists are outraged. While it's a bit silly to defend sheep's "right" to be "gay," as Martina Navratilova did, there is talk of applying the research the humans by giving pregnant women the option to receive an injected hormonal cocktail to nip their son's homo tendencies in the bud. A Northwestern neurologist—not ethicist, not ob-gyn, not psychologist—tells the London Times that "Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise." (So, it's OK to mutilate your child in utero but not to abort a child you can't care for?) Udo Schuklenk, who is an ethicist, expresses concern that such technology could wind up "in the hands of Iran.…It is typical of the US to ignore the global context in which this is taking place." It seems to have slipped Dr. Schuklenk's mind that the U.S. has consistently voted with Iran when gay and lesbian issues have come before the United Nations.

Perversely, it's PETA that sounds the lone sane note of the article, condemning the study as "a needless slaughter of animals, an affront to human dignity and a colossal waste of precious research funds."

The research appears not to address ewe behavior in any way--which is odd, because their willingness is at least somewhat necessary to the mating process--or whether the hormone shot would be likely to keep human girl babies on the straight and narrow, too.

And, in yet more bad news from Iraq, this article tipped me off that gays and lesbians have been targeted for kidnappings and killings in Baghdad. Though, with the number of murders in Iraq, it's hard to say what it even means to be targeted.

On a lighter note, lesbians in Bangkok have partied through the recent coup in that country. The scene there is surprisingly vibrant, given that the country has a seriously spotty human rights record. This is how lesbians get their very own article in the New York Times? How very odd.

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