should_gay_sex_venues_steam_baths_be_shut_downA British LGBT rights campaigner has controversially argued that gay sex venues like saunas and steam-baths should be closed down if gay people want to be accepted as “normal” by society.

James Wharton, an openly gay former soldier who served with Prince Harry, made the statement in an article published by Wing magazine.

He wrote that “Sex saunas need to be history. The time has come to close them down,” reported The Independent.

Wharton argued that these venues encourage unsafe sex and drug use and are “thorns in our side that mark our community as different for the wrong reasons.”

“If we don’t, we feed the haters and we hand the bigots who remain a vocal minority ammunition with which to attack us,” he said.

“For me as a gay man, the notion that there exist within our communities a series of places that actively promote the convening of gay men for participation in sex of shades various and in groups of all sizes rather revolts me – and I’ve been round the block a few times, believe me.

“I’m no prude, not even close, but the days when we gathered in clandestine fashion for the want of a network or a sexual outlet are surely long gone,” Wharton added.

Gay rights groups were sceptical of Wharton’s approach and noted that closing these venues won’t stop people from hooking up in other ways.

Matthew Hodson from GMFA told the newspaper: “If someone says that they don’t like gays because we have sex with lots of partners, they’re probably just searching for an excuse to justify their prejudice. Most people with homophobic attitudes will be uncomfortable with gay men in long-term monogamous relationships too.”

Wharton’s view suggests that all gay men want “to be normal,” based on traditional heterosexual ideas of normality. While this may be true for many of us, should others have to conform to these rules to be accepted as legitimate members of society?

Is our community’s diversity of views, behaviour and openness to challenging norms not among our strengths?

Tell us what you think of Wharton’s argument below.

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