Tag: homosexuals

Bioethics Blogs

A more ethical form of HIV criminalization

HIV has been criminalized throughout the history of the epidemic, or to be more exact, people living with HIV and their behaviors have been a persistent focus of criminal law. This was undoubtedly due in part to the fact that HIV initially was untreatable and infection (for the vast majority) spelt death. It was terrifying. But it wasn’t just an understandable public health reaction. Criminalization is not necessarily a wise way of controlling an epidemic, as it can be counterproductive, driving underground persons potentially subject to the laws. And there is no way of getting around that those disproportionately affected by HIV (especially in the USA), were considered ‘undesirables’ by many in the public and those leaders they voted for. Criminalization also reflected a moral panic against homosexuals and injection drug users. So, because it was not really based on solid public health principles or scientific evidence in the first place, it is unsurprising that states made laws covering actions highly unlikely to lead to transmission (like spitting or oral sex), fail to take the use of new prevention technologies (PreP, use of antiretrovirals) into account, and often don’t take into consideration the intention to cause harm. What is perhaps more surprising (and depressing) is that many of these laws are still on the books.  

I am thinking that HIV criminalization should not be abolished, but pointed in a better direction. Let me back up. For a few years now, I have been working on a NIH-funded project on the social and ethical dimensions of HIV cure research.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Controversy swirls around AIDS drug in UK

When a conservative Christian journalist writes a story about a highly-praised AIDS drug headlined “Killing Grandma for Gay sex” and an AIDS activist describes it as a “profit-driven sex toy for rich Westerners”, you know that you’ve uncovered an ethical controversy.

This month the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued a published an evidence summary on the use of Truvada, a lucrative Gilead drug for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). In a number of other countries, Truvada has already been rolled out as a way of keeping gay men safe from infection with HIV. If taken every day, it prevents infection – a kind of pharmaceutical condom.

The controversy in the UK is not so much over whether it works, but whether it should be government funded. “There is little doubt that Truvada is effective in reducing HIV acquisition in high-risk people who are HIV-negative,” says the NICE advice.. “However, issues relating to uptake, adherence, sexual behaviour, drug resistance, safety, prioritisation for prophylaxis and cost-effectiveness are also important to consider, especially at a population level.

In August, the High Court ruled that the UK’s National Health Service had to supply Truvada because children with cystic fibrosis, amputees and blood cancer victims could be disadvantaged. It would cost the NHS up to £20 million a year. Outraged critics said that the money would be better spent on treatments for sick people rather than healthy people engaging in risky behavior.

On a public health level, there are concerns about whether the men could commit to taking the drug regularly.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Sex and Other Sins: Public Morality, Public Health, and Funding PrEP.

Guest Post by Nathan Emmerich

In the UK, a recent high-court decision[1] has reignited the debate about whether or not Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) should be provided to those who are deemed to be at high-risk of contracting HIV.[2] Despite the fact that NHS England is now appealing,[3] it was a fairly innocuous decision: having suggested that they were barred from funding PrEP, the court ruled that it would be legal for the NHS to fund PrEP and that they should therefore consider doing so.3

What is less innocuous are debates about whether or not access to PrEP should be publicly funded at all. Whilst individuals report being able to buy a month’s supply online for around £45,[4] the annual cost of the drug to the NHS could be more than £4,000 per patient. Although this may seem a relatively exorbitant expense, it makes economic sense to provide PrEP; doing so could prove to be cheaper than providing treatment[5] to those who would otherwise become HIV positive.

Despite this sound economic rationale, the media, or certain sections of it, have predictably focused on one particular group who are candidates for the drug as they are at higher risk of contracting HIV: homosexuals. In particular, the debate has centred on promiscuous gay men or, to use the academic term, men who have sex with men. This includes individuals who regularly have sex with new partners, as well as those who engage in protected and unprotected group sex.

Perhaps as a result of this focus, the view that public funds should not be used for PrEP[6] seems fairly widespread.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

India may ban all commercial surrogacy

Surrogacy class / BBC 

The Indian government plans to impose a complete ban on commercial surrogacy and to permit it only for legally married Indian couples. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2016 would ban unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals from engaging surrogate mothers. Nothing but altruistic surrogacy would be permitted.

Only “close relatives” would be eligible to be surrogate mothers. A woman would only be able to do it once and she would have to be married and to have borne a child herself. The woman commissioning the child would be the legal mother, not the birth mother. A woman seeking a surrogate child would have to be between 23 and 50 years in age and her husband between 26 and 55 years.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said that there was a real need for regulation now that India has more than 2,000 surrogacy clinics. The surrogacy industry has swollen into a US$1 billion business.

Whether the bill actually survives intense lobbying from the surrogacy industry is hard to say. It has already come under attack on Twitter for being homophobic and paternalistic and for denying childless couples the happiness of having a child of their own. The Times of India editorialised:

The government’s approach is patronising towards women – the latter should be able to choose if they want to be surrogate mothers even, or especially, if they are poor. It’s exploitation that government should be looking to curb, not freedom to choose. According to the proposed bill only altruistic surrogacy will be allowed, that too only for married Indian couples facing infertility issues and through a close relative as the surrogate mother.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

India to Ban Rent-a-Wombs, Limited Surrogacy Allowed But Not for Single Women, Gays

August 25, 2016

(The Wire) – Once approved, there will be a complete ban on commercial surrogacy, but altruistic surrogacy will be permitted for needy infertile couples under strict regulations. The draft law allows only Indian citizens to avail of surrogacy, not foreigners, NRIs or PIOs. And in a provision that reflects the moral conservatism of policymakers – both in the present BJP-led government and the previous Congress-led one – the law discriminates against Indian citizens who are homosexuals, would-be single parents, and live-in couples. Individuals who fall in these categories will be ineligible to avail of surrogacy even if they are infertile. Finally, couples who already have children – biological or adopted – will not be allowed to go in for surrogacy, though they can adopt a child.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In Praise of Ambivalence: “Young” Feminism, Gender Identity, and Free Speech

By Brian D. Earp (@briandavidearp)

* Note: this article was first published online at Quillette magazine.

Introduction

Alice Dreger, the historian of science, sex researcher, activist, and author of a much-discussed book of last year, has recently called attention to the loss of ambivalence as an acceptable attitude in contemporary politics and beyond. “Once upon a time,” she writes, “we were allowed to feel ambivalent about people. We were allowed to say, ‘I like what they did here, but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.’ Those days are gone. Today the rule is that if someone—a scientist, a writer, a broadcaster, a politician—does one thing we don’t like, they’re dead to us.”

I’m going to suggest that this development leads to another kind of loss: the loss of our ability to work together, or better, learn from each other, despite intense disagreement over certain issues. Whether it’s because our opponent hails from a different political party, or voted differently on a key referendum, or thinks about economics or gun control or immigration or social values—or whatever—in a way we struggle to comprehend, our collective habit of shouting at each other with fingers stuffed in our ears has reached a breaking point.

It’s time to bring ambivalence back.

A Fatal Retraction

Given the state of politics these days, Dreger’s remarks could have been triggered by just about anything; but as it happens, she was reflecting on a controversial decision by the editors of Everyday Feminism, a popular online feminist magazine, to pull an essay of hers on sex education.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In praise of ambivalence—“young” feminism, gender identity, and free speech

By Brian D. Earp (@briandavidearp)

* Note: this article was first published online at Quillette magazine.

Introduction

Alice Dreger, the historian of science, sex researcher, activist, and author of a much-discussed book of last year, has recently called attention to the loss of ambivalence as an acceptable attitude in contemporary politics and beyond. “Once upon a time,” she writes, “we were allowed to feel ambivalent about people. We were allowed to say, ‘I like what they did here, but that bit over there doesn’t thrill me so much.’ Those days are gone. Today the rule is that if someone—a scientist, a writer, a broadcaster, a politician—does one thing we don’t like, they’re dead to us.”

I’m going to suggest that this development leads to another kind of loss: the loss of our ability to work together, or better, learn from each other, despite intense disagreement over certain issues. Whether it’s because our opponent hails from a different political party, or voted differently on a key referendum, or thinks about economics or gun control or immigration or social values—or whatever—in a way we struggle to comprehend, our collective habit of shouting at each other with fingers stuffed in our ears has reached a breaking point.

It’s time to bring ambivalence back.

A Fatal Retraction

Given the state of politics these days, Dreger’s remarks could have been triggered by just about anything; but as it happens, she was reflecting on a controversial decision by the editors of Everyday Feminism, a popular online feminist magazine, to pull an essay of hers on sex education.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Oxford Uehiro Prize in Practical Ethics: Are offensive jokes more permissible if they’re funny? Written by Raphael Hogarth

This essay received an Honourable Mention in the Undergraduate Category of the Oxford Uehiro Prize of Practical Ethics

Written by New College Oxford student Raphael Hogarth

Three moral agents walk into a bar. They get to joking and, with each round, their banter becomes more risqué. After the second pint, Agent A ventures a humourless and offensive joke about Jews and big noses: Agents B and C scowl and move on. After the third pint, Agent A has another crack with a joke about the holocaust – a more insensitive joke, but also apparently one with more potential to amuse. Agent B can’t help but giggle; Agent C is incandescent with outrage. Agents A and B retort in chorus: “But it’s funny!”[1]

This is a familiar sort of exchange. Someone accused of moral turpitude for a tasteless quip will often reach for its comedic value as a defence. Conversely, witlessness is often seen to add insult to injury with offensive jokes: “It wasn’t even funny!” This phenomenon is surprisingly under-philosophised. There has been some debate about how the moral character of a joke can affect how funny it is (the ‘comic moralism/immoralism/amoralism’ debate),[2] but virtually none about whether how funny a joke is can affect its moral character. This is an important question. We form and nourish many of our personal relationships through jokes; their moral status affects ours. Though my focus here is on ethics, not politics, the answer may also have implications for public life – about proper penance for those who make offensive jokes in official capacities, for instance.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Should Rhodes stay or should he go? On the ethics of removing controversial statues

This is an unedited version of an article originally published by The Conversation.

Picture this: it’s 20 April 2021 and the charming Austrian village of Braunau am Inn – Hitler’s birth place – reveals a new statue of Adolf Hitler on the main square. In his inauguration speech, the mayor stresses that although Hitler obviously did many immoral deeds, he also achieved some good things, such as building motorways and railroads, and advancing rocket science. With the new statue, the village wishes to commemorate Hitler’s valuable contributions to Germany and Austria, contributions from which many still reap benefits.

If this scenario were to occur,[1] it would cause a public outcry. It would be considered offensive and disrespectful towards Hitler’s victims and their families. It would also be seen as conveying implicit approval or tolerance of the atrocities that were committed in his name, perhaps making the village authorities complicit in the continuing stigmatisation of those same groups targeted by Hitler. In no time, the village would succumb to the pressure to take it down.

Removal of the Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town

If there are good reasons not to erect a statue of Hitler, are there also good reasons to remove existing statues that some find problematic, such as that of the controversial British imperialist Cecil Rhodes?

In January, after months of heated debate and Rhodes Must Fall activism, Oxford University’s Oriel College decided to leave a statue of Rhodes on his pedestal at the front of the college. But protests are continuing against Oriel’s decision – mixed in with calls to remove statues of other controversial imperialist figures.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Mexico closes door to cheap surrogate mothers

Surrogate mothers in the surrogacy agency home last year. The agency was forced into involuntary bankruptcy and is being investigated by the FBI.

After India and Thailand, another country has slammed its doors on foreigners seeking surrogate mothers. The Mexican state of Tabasco, the only one which allowed surrogacy, has changed its legislation after a number of reports of abuses. By a vote of 21 to 9, the state legislature voted to restrict surrogacy to Mexicans and to exclude homosexuals and singles. Couples who engage a surrogate must now include a mother aged between 25 and 40 with documentation that she is unable to bear a child.

One deputy, Verónica Pérez Rojas, said that she voted to restrict surrogacy because it is a “new form of exploitation of women and trafficking”. He added that it treats children as commercial products and that it was a hotbed for exploitation and abuse of women. 

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.