The Freedom To Love

How love has been subject to restrictions and discrimination, and how many of these continue today.

The Right To Sex

Forbidden Love: A History


Love is a universal emotion that has the power to bring people together and create strong bonds. However, the expression of love has not always been free or accepted across all societies.

Throughout history, cultures have placed restrictions on love and relationships. These restrictions can be seen in the treatment of women, or relationships between members of the LGBT community. Other cultures have prohibited relationships between people of different races or castes, and discouraged premarital sex.

The roots of these cultural restrictions are often found in religious texts, which dictate how people should behave with romantic partners. For instance, the Bible states “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.” Passages like these have been used throughout history to discriminate against types of love.

Love, Gender, and 'The Right to Sex'

In many historical cultures, women were seen as property, with their value determined by the wealth or status of their husbands. This led to a long history of unequal treatment for women in relationships, including domestic abuse and lack of autonomy over decisions such as marriage or divorce.

In recent years, there has been an increasing pushback against these restrictions on love based on gender. The #MeToo movement is one example, which highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault faced by women around the world.

In addition, books such as *The Right To Sex* by Amia Srinivasan have challenged traditional notions about female sexuality and pushed for greater freedom for women to make choices about love and sex. These efforts are slowly but surely leading to more equal rights for both genders when it comes to matters of the heart.



Members of the LGBT community have long faced discrimination and prejudice due to their sexual orientation. Progress has been made in the last few decades, but when it comes to equality in love and relationships, there is still a long way to go.

For example, in many countries, same-sex relationships are still illegal or heavily restricted. In Cameroon, a person participating in a same-sex relationship could end up with a five-year jail sentence.

Even in places like the United States, same-sex marriage was legalized relatively recently. In 2015, the Supreme Court passed a ruling which legalized same-sex marriage across all states and territories of the United States; this was a landmark decision, but members of LGBT communities would have wanted to see it sooner.

Love Across Races


For hundreds of years, interracial relationships have been subject to restrictions, with laws in many countries prohibiting marriage between people of different races.

In the United States, interracial marriages were only legalized in 1967 with their ruling on Loving v Virginia.
In South Africa, apartheid laws prohibiting intimate relationships between different races were abolished in 1985. These decisions, among others, were major victories for civil rights activists who had fought against racism for decades.

But today, there is still prejudice against interracial couples. 11% of Americans still disapprove of interracial marriage; this number is much lower than it used to be, but it shows that prejudice is yet to go away completely.

Extramarital Sex

Premarital sex has been a contentious issue for centuries, with many cultures and religions placing strict restrictions on sexual activity before marriage. This usually comes down to religion: a number of major world religions see sex before marriage as a sin.

In some countries, such as Indonesia, premarital sex is still illegal and can be punishable by imprisonment. Even in more progressive countries like the United States, there are social stigmas attached to having sex before marriage. This has often led to a double standard, where men are praised for their sexual conquests while women face judgment and criticism if they engage in similar behavior.

In some parts of India, a woman will undergo a ‘virginity test’ on her wedding night. If she fails the test, the husband will banish her, or on rare occasions, perform an honor killing. The man is not expected to undergo a ‘virginity test’ of his own.

Defending the Right to Love

Arranged marriages are a traditional practice in many cultures and religions around the world, especially in countries like India and Israel. The idea behind arranged marriages is that families, rather than individuals, are responsible for choosing a person’s partner.

Arranged marriages are based on the belief that love and affection are secondary to things like family honor, cultural values, and financial stability. Love may grow between two people after they are married, but it should not be the initial reason for the union.

In recent times, there has been a growing pushback against arranged marriages. Many individuals see arranged marriages as a violation of their right to choose their own partners. They argue that love and affection should be the cornerstone of any relationship, and that forcing two people to enter into a marriage without consent is unjust.

Love, Adultery, and Religion

Adultery has been widely frowned upon by cultures and religions throughout history. Many societies have imposed moral and legal restrictions on adultery, with the punishment ranging from social ostracism to imprisonment.

In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, adultery is still punishable by law. In other countries, it is technically legal, but socially unacceptable. For example, a 2018 survey found that 88% of Americans thought that having an affair was morally wrong.

Unlike other restrictions on love and relationships, not many people are fighting to get rid of these restrictions on adultery. But some people are trying to address the gender imbalance inherent in certain laws. In countries where adultery is illegal, women are usually punished more harshly than men.

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