Monkeypox and Gay Marriage
It is not often that I report what other blogs are writing, but I happened to chance upon an article written on The Islamic Information blog about the monkeypox virus. Writing credit goes to Haniya Hassan but what caught my eye were the maps that she used. The article's title reads "Map Shows Spread of Monkeypox Where Gay Marriages Are Legal." First, you have a map labeled the "2022 MonkeyPox Outbreak," and then you have another map labeled "Countries where Gay Marriages are Legal." The flux of the article compares the two maps and declares a substantial similarity. The implication is that gay marriage spreads monkeypox.
My purpose for exploring this topic is to research Ms. Hassan's findings and see if there is a connection between monkeypox and gay marriage. The World Health Organization (WHO) Press Release is our first stop dated 29 May 2022. The WHO reports that 23 countries have reported cases of the virus since 13 May. Most reported cases come from men with travel links to an endemic area. Initial cases have been mainly reported amongst men who have had sex with other men. As of 26 May, there were 257 laboratory-confirmed cases and another 120 suspected but unconfirmed cases. No deaths had been reported.
Part of the WHO Press release shows the case numbers for the endemic countries and the case numbers for the non-endemic countries. Endemic means that a disease or virus is regularly found among people in a specific area. The endemic countries are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Nigeria, Congo, and Sierra Leone. These countries are primarily located across middle Africa, and it goes without saying that both Christian and Muslim communities are well represented in this area. In other words, these countries represent the source of the virus. People who travel to these countries and have a sexual relationship, predominately male on male, have a higher propensity to contract the virus.
Monkeypox in these endemic countries is commonplace and not considered an epidemic. However, the sudden appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests recent amplifying events are occurring.
While 23 non-endemic countries have confirmed cases, many countries only have 1 or 2 cases. Of the 257 confirmed cases, 80 percent are in five countries: the UK (106), Portugal (49), Canada (26), Spain (20), and the Netherlands (12). The majority of the 120 unconfirmed cases also fall within Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands.
The WHO suggests that monkeypox is usually self-limiting in those endemic countries as the population will have some immunity. However, in non-endemic countries, there is little immunity. The prognosis for the monkeypox virus is that it is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding. One smallpox vaccine and one specific treatment are approved, but these countermeasures are not yet widely available in most countries.
So, let's look at the maps.
Credit: Islamic Information blog site.
Credit: Human Rights Campaign Foundation (hrc.org)
The map that describes marriage equality worldwide comes from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and can be found on their website (hrc.org). The HRC says 31 countries recognize gay marriage. Pew Research and Wikipedia report that 30 countries have enacted national laws for same-sex marriages. The numbers are close, so their map would be representative.
The monkeypox map developed by the Islamic Information blog is misleading. Most cases are in five countries that do indeed allow gay marriage. Seventeen other countries only had one or two cases and would be considered outliers. Even the UAE had one case. What about the countries in Africa that constitute the source of the virus? They had over 1000 cases, but their numbers don't count because they have virus outbreaks regularly. Those countries do not have laws that permit gay marriage.
The question is: does the monkeypox map resemble the gay marriage map? My opinion would be that the map is skewed to make a person believe that gay marriage is the cause of monkeypox spreading. Gay marriages in Western countries are usually monogamous; thus, gay marriages would act as a social network to stop the spread of the virus. I would also venture that it's probable that both Muslim and Christian men (and Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews) are participating in this pandemic. The Lord was not indiscriminate when he created humanity.
We recognize that homosexuality is anathema to Islam. So, what has caused homosexuality to become such a hated crime? Fundamentalists justify the blanket condemnation of homosexuality through references to the parable of Lot as written in the Qur'an (26:161). This version of Lot's story is the same as in the Bible in Genesis, chapters 11-14 and 19. The parable ending is similar in both the Bible and the Qur'an. The official line is that Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked cities with homosexuality and bestiality running rampant. Because of this wickedness, God allowed Lot and his immediate family to leave but destroyed four towns in the region with fire and brimstone from the heavens (Deuteronomy 29:23). We know that approximately 500 years later, Moses incorporated these values into law so that in ancient Israel, homosexuality was punishable by death (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13). There is much emphasis in the Bible that believers remember this behavior and the consequences, for there are 27 references outside Genesis, where the Bible mentions Sodom. The Qur'an also documents it (27:55). In summation, it may seem that modern Christianity has become progressive and liberal, while fundamentalist Islam has remained rooted in its original values.
While homosexuality was never accepted, Muslim society was more open to its visibility. As heirs to ancient Greek culture, Muslim scholars discovered that men would be drawn to young boys or effeminate males since they manifested the same feminine beauty as women. Sharia has no penalty against looking and lusting, only against actual acts of sexual contact.
As a scholar, I don't deny that gay sex is causing some of the monkeypox spread, but I would add that if you are going to insinuate a cause and effect, then do your homework and report your results accurately.