What on Earth is “sexual identity”?

The European Parliament today adopted yet another one of its legally non-binding “Initiative Reports”, this time on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on Children’s Rights.

While support for children’s rights (and, with some caveats, also for the Convention) is not controversial, one point raised some discussion among MEPs – notably within the EPP group, which has many members that uncritically go along with everything that has the labels “human rights” and “anti-discrimination”, while others are more cautious with what they are signing up to. That point was the mentioning of “sexual identity” in Recital F, where it is regretted that

“… children’s rights continue to be violated in many parts of the world, including in EU member states, as a result of violence, abuse and exploitation, poverty, social exclusion and discrimination based on religion, disability, gender, sexual identity, age, ethnicity, migration or residence status.”

But what on Earth is “sexual identity”? And how can one be “discriminated” on that basis?

As we have pointed out elsewhere on this website, “identity” (derived from Latin id esse) refers to who or what someone is. Taken literally, “sexual identity” can therefore only mean one’s biological sex. But that, it appears, is already covered by the term “gender”. “Sexual identity” seems thus redundant.

So, what is “sexual identity”? Is it the two notorious but still not-legally-defined terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” drawn together into one? (Clearly, the sexual lobby is getting tired of its own neo-logisms – which is no wonder, given how confusing they are…) In fact, “sexual identity” appears in no legal text, and it would have been useful if the Parliament, if it really needed to use it, had clarified its meaning.

As one MEP suggested, the term “basically means that children would be discriminated because of their homosexuality or because they are seen as homosexuals for example”.

So it is about “bullying on the schoolyard”, a classical stereotype of the LGBT “victim narrative”.

But there are at least three objections that come to mind.

First, the very problem of homosexuality is that it is a behaviour that stands in contradiction to a person’s identity. A homosexual is a man whose sexual behaviour is different from normal masculine sexuality. The term “homosexuality” is thus a paradox: one can behave in a homosexual way, but one cannot actually be homosexual. “Homosexual” and “identity” are two words that don’t rhyme.

Second, if someone is discriminated because “he is seen as homosexual” rather than because he is homosexual, then obviously the basis for his discrimination is not his identity but his appearance.

The third point is more practical. We all know that mobbing or, as it is nowadays called, “bullying” take place on school yards – it is part of everyone’s childhood experiences. Often this can be a very cruel experience. However, calling someone names like “faggot”, “dyke”, etc., doesn’t mean that the addressee actually is gay or lesbian, or that the name-caller believes him to be so. More often than not, these or similar words are used to insult and harass children who are not gay at all. The problem is therefore not the bullying of gay or lesbian children, but bullying in general. This has nothing to do with “sexual identity”.

The simple fact is that children use “dirty” words to insult each other – and often the dirtiest words are the ones that have to do with homosexuality. But why is that so? Would the world (or at least Europe’s schoolyards) be a better place if school-bullies used politically-correct terminology such as “gay” or “homosexual”, rather than “faggot”, to harass their victims? Should a non-gay child be flattered to be called “gay”? Should a homosexual child, if it really exists, be offended when it is (correctly) identified as such?

“Discrimination of children because of their homosexuality” is gobbledygook. The real issue is that nobody who isn’t gay wants to be identified as such. And some who are gay don’t want to be identified in that way either.

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