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Gay orgies are none of your God damn business

Sexual Politics

Isn't it time the Vatican admitted that people are going to keep having sex whatever they say? Kate Smurthwaite asks.

 The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel.
The 'Creation of Adam' by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel. This image is in the public domain.

Police, we heard recently, were called to break up a gay orgy. Which doesn’t make sense as a headline if you hit pause on your moral outrage button and remember that the gender and number of people other people are having sex with is neither a legal matter nor any of your God damn business.

A God damn business, literally, it is though since the alleged scenes of responsible adults safely enjoying consensual sex were taking place in The Vatican. The apartment raided belongs to the secretary to cardinal Francesco Coccopa­l­merio who has been taken in for questioning and, based on historical Vatican honesty levels, will probably claim he accidentally rented it out on AirBnB.

It’s also that time of year when the papers are full of recommendations for holiday reading. So here’s one from me. Nigel Cawthorne’s memorable work Sex Lives of the Popes. An utter page turner in our house; more salacious than ‘Fifty Shades of Snooze’; and guaranteed to get you the arm rest on your budget flight.

One thing you’ll realize on the way through is that gay orgies are not new to The Vatican. Over the last couple of millennia they’ve mainly served as a refreshing change from all the straight orgies. Pope Leo X came out shortly after taking on the papacy. The Romans had been at first perplexed why he didn’t bring a mistress with him when he came to take office.

Which makes you wonder why the Pope persists in having opinions about who should and shouldn't be having sex and with whom and presumably in what position. Even those directly employed by him and working and living under his very nose are doing everything he reckons is a bad idea. All night long. It's almost as though at the moment of scampering upstairs with our collective knickers halfway round our ankles we're just not wondering what His Holiness's opinion is.

I have visions of a loving unmarried couple having romantic eye-contact-maintaining missionary position sex while next door a married couple gaffer tape one another to the wall and whack each other with a copy of Sex Lives of the Popes while shouting through the wall: ‘His Holiness approves of this you dirty perverts!’ But that is the Catholic Church’s official position, as far as anyone can tell.

The fact is that people have sex and it’s about time His Holiness got used to the idea. Evolution favours the horny.

You might think given my reputation as a dyed-in-the-wool atheist (I’m actually an escaped Baptist) all this is none of my business. But bans on safe legal abortion everywhere from Ireland to South America ruin and regularly end the lives of atheist women too. If your religion is forced on people against their will it’s not religion, it’s oppression. Blessed be the fruit.

The last pope didn’t seem to have a much clearer line when he announced that it was ok for male prostitutes to use condoms. Which feels like your mum saying: ‘Don’t do drugs darling, but if you do inject heroin into your eyeballs, rinse them out with contact lens solution afterward.’

It also creates a loophole in that gay couples paranoid about the Papal position on their love-making can resolve the issue by demanding a nominal one cent per fuck and declaring it on their Income Tax paperwork. If they keep at it they might make enough to cover the postage.

Last year the Pope warned Catholics everywhere not to run away from ‘the needy’. Perhaps it’s time he faced up to the fact that many of the world’s most pressing needs are for effective contraception, condoms and safe legal abortion. These are the inevitable side effects of the fact that a lot of us, Catholic or otherwise, wake up some days feeling like what we need is a bloody good shag.

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