Vapaa-ajattelijain Liitto ry

Uskonnottomien etu-, oikeusturva- ja kulttuurijärjestö

Sexual Rights and Secularism – Seksuaaliset oikeudet sekularismin satoa
Esa Ylikoski / 16.10.2018
When the authority and power of Religion has weakened, human rights pertaining to sexuality and reproduction health have advanced. Uskonnon valta-aseman heikentymisen myötä ihmisoikeuksia seksuaalisuuden alueilla on saatu parannettua.

Seksuaaliset oikeudet ovat lisääntyneet maallistumisen myötä. Artikkelini aiheesta on julkaistu Vapaa Ajattelija -lehdessä 2/2018:

Julkaisemme samasta aiheesta myös englanninkielisen puheenvuoroni Rationalist International Conference 2018 -tapahtumassa 29.-30.9.2018.

Sexual Rights and Secularity
Speech of Esa Ylikoski, MA, General Secretary, Union of Freethinkers of Finland in Rationalist International Conference 2018 Helsinki 29.-30.9.2018

All human beings have sexuality, regardless of being sexually active or not. Sexuality is a central aspect of being human. Sexual health means physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relations of sexuality. Sexual rights are essential for the achievement of the highest attainable sexual health.

Sexual rights are based on the inherent freedom, dignity and equality of all human beings and include a commitment to protection from harm. Sexual rights are grounded in universal human rights.

Religions, especially Christianity and Islam, have long history of controlling and regulating sexual behavior of human beings, women and men. Mainly severe, strict limitations have had and still have negative, harmful influence to freedom, happiness and sexual health.
When the authority and power of religion has weakened, human rights pertaining to sexuality and reproduction health have advanced. However, these rights are limited in many countries and accomplished rights are often threatened. Religions try to limit sex only for married by religious matrimony.

Sex before wedding and, on the whole, without marriage is restricted by teaching of many religions. Sex without marriage is considered a sin and also a crime, punished even by death penalty. Also masturbation, solo sex, has been stamped serious sin by religions
Extra strict religiously motivated regulation of sexuality is focused at women. It is manifested by much more severe punishments for breaking norms of sexual behavior.

Also same sex marriage and homosexual activity has been strictly forbidden. Discrimination against homosexuals continues still also in Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and in Orthodox Church, too. Also development of human rights of bi, inter, trans and other gender persons is on halfway.

Solo sex has a natural role of development and fulfillment of sexuality, a natural way to relieve sexual energy. It’s astonishing – or not – that the Church has had in the 2000s “cautiously negative opinion” towards masturbation.

Thanks to correct information and secularization of society sexual behavior has been liberated. In Finland and many other countries people can in general enjoy their sexuality and live more freely and, hence, happier in many phases of their life. Also short sexual relations and experiments without plans to marriage are possible, although they in general or for long may not be the best way to fulfill sexuality.

Dating and courtship are allowed and nowadays generally approved. And of course it is both emotional and rational get to know each other well, if you are interested in moving to live together. And if you are interested in get married, it is both emotional and rational to live together before marriage. Although, inside the influence of many religious movements this kind of sexual freedom is strictly forbidden.

Narrow-minded, conservative limitation combined by sin doctrine can lead to psychical anxiety among young and also elderly persons. It can strengthen by religion teaching in Basic School and teaching in confirmation school of Church or sermons in church service. “Heaven” and “Hell” are threat for mental wellbeing if someone takes them seriously, in all earnestness.

Religiously conservative forces have tried to limit availability of sex education in Schools. Although sex education has been discovered important, increasing wellness and preventing problems.

Virgin myth, demand on virginity before marriage has widely passed away. Woman, man, humans are not vitiated, spoiled because of sex, sexual experiments or relationship. Sexual life is part of individual personal growth and development.

Although, it is important, that everyone have mutual desire, passion and satisfaction in that kind of experiences. Violence and insensibility do not belong to good sexual life. Forcing someone to marriage or relationship is unacceptable and must be forbidden, and pressure to abstain sex relation or marriage is unacceptable as well. Love and trust of intimate relationship can develop only freely, without fear.

Cohabitation, common-law marriage without official marriage is an outstanding example of rational behavior, when people have liberated themselves from religious guardianship and control. In most cases it’s rational to test mutually in practice how nice to live together, because marriage de jure is heavily regulated concerning economic consequences, also in the case of divorce. Common-law marriage can be also a constant solution, maybe after previous marriages.

Juridical concept of adultery has been abolished in Finland, and there is no need to convict someone guilty. We have a possibility to civil marriage instead of Church marriage. And as to the gender equality, now we have also The Equal Marriage Law, which is the first citizens’ initiative that is approved by the Finnish Parliament.

By legislation work it has been achieved important improvement to the status of natural children of parents without marriage by acknowledgment of fatherhood paternity and by legacy right. So we can see, that human rights have been developed by humanistic and rational legislation instead of religious dogmas.

Although gay, lesbian, bi, inter, trans ja other hlbtix-people still meet discrimination in legislation and every-day-life. LHBTI Rights in Finland aims for an equal society and individual welfare that includes everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. It’s needed to change legislation and attitudes through education and information and by co-operating with authorities and political decision-makers.

Sexual wellbeing of parents without religious limitations is a good benefit for small children. Sexuality, intimate relationship and reproductive health and rights include also the right of birth control. And women have also right for induced abortion. The promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights is a worldwide task.

Religions and Churches have caused and still cause in world enormous suffering when they prohibit the use of birth control and contraceptives. The possibility to be born wanted for wishing parents is a big benefit for children. Both possibility to infertility treatment and, in other hand, birth control and legal abortion promote the advantage and rights of Children.

The right for birth control contraceptives and induced abortion has been achieved democratic way after non-religious, secular, ethic and humanistic discussion and judgment. So it should be in future, too, although conservative force try to change it.

Rights to birth control has been limited and are tried to be limited all over the planet by motives of religious ideology. Especially Catholic Church and pope obsess it, but the same is quite common also in protestant evangelical churches.

When we ward off these attacks, it’s not only the question of the women’s right to her own body but also question of defending and promoting the rights of small children and families. Secular ethics includes respect of unique life, and that’s why we must do in health care system all we can to prevent miscarriages, infant mortality and child mortality as far as possible.

We cannot trust “higher power” or “fate” or neither resign us to “guidance”. Religious faith to “heaven places of small angels” cannot give real solution neither solace to high infant and child mortality.

Experiences of child health Centre system and public health care in Finland prove, that it’s possible to achieve sexual wellbeing, reproduction health and really low infant and child mortality by active social work and public policy, which are not limited by old fashioned, harmful religious dogma.

Esa Ylikoski

Declaration of Sexual Rights World Association for Sexual Health, WAS | |
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