unnecessary proscriptions — on the persecution of homosexuals the world over

How unfortunate.  For anyone who is interested in what caning looks like, you’ll find plenty of examples on YouTube. I would, however, advise against it unless you are cursed with the same morbid (and unfortunate) curiosity about the darker sides of human nature, and its evolutionary/cultural causes, that I seem to posses.

In general, I would just recommend that most of you simply take my word for it, and trust that when I say watching an elderly woman writhe over in pain for an offense as harmless as selling alcohol, a high degree of emotional empathy is not something one feels so fortunate to possess (at least not at that moment).
Anyway, there are a lot of seemingly stupid things humans do as a matter of course, even though there might be rational explanations for why we do them. Mostly, behaviors such as caning help to regulate society toward some end goal, often for reasons that appear at first to have little to do with the behavior being regulated.
For example, certain foods may be considered forbidden (and usually a religious explanation is given), but the real cause for why such foods lost favor in a given society has more to do with the fact that rival tribes consume them. To maintain group cohesion and regulate against out-group marriage, forbidding the consumption of the culinary delights of one’s enemies makes it more difficult for one’s progeny to engage in the “breaking of bread” with the “oh Romeo, oh Romeo” just across the way.
This is so because the emotion of “disgust” against foreign, but otherwise edible, food types emerges during childhood as an evolved way of protecting against food poisoning. We feel disgust for food that is more likely to be dangerous to eat, and the more disgust we feel, the less likely we may end up consuming that which puts us on our death bed (or heaved over the toilet). So the regulation against out-group foods takes advantage of disgust to reduce the likelihood that Romeo and Juliet will ever enjoy caviar under the moonlight, because Juliet would rather puke her guts out than consume caviar.
Anyway, proscriptions against homosexuality in religious texts probably also have similar evolutionary/cultural explanations. Mostly, in cases where a society needed to procreate at high numbers–such as during periods of military conquest, where changing the local demographics of an area was far more practical and advantageous than trying to rule, from afar, the out-groups who lived in those places–having every able bodied man and every able bodied woman getting it on in the style most likely to generate babies was the fastest way towards accomplishing the socially desirable ends of demographic conquest through demographic expansion. This is just one explanation, mind you, but it’s one I find compelling.
It’s also the only one that seems to make the most sense for why the Christian God and his Islamic variant, “Allah”, would want to forbid that which comes natural to approximately 3-10% of the world’s population, namely: “lying with a man as with a woman [when one is a man (and vise versa when one is a woman)].”
Obviously, there might be some more sophisticated theological reasons for why God/Allah would want to implement such totally unnecessary strictures, and of course those would offer some version of the “mysterious god” acting in “mysterious ways” argument — but really, in the end, I struggle to find why a just god would be so sadistic as to invent a whole sexuality that would develop in billions of his creation (including humans and non-human animals), and then outlaw it in the human animal only.
But needless to say, those verses were inscribed within these texts in a way that, today, results in an untold number of unnecessary brutality, in some countries, and tragically torn families in others. And while I am not a religious person, I would hope that, as more information becomes known about the natural causes for the great diversity in human sexuality (fact), today’s “tribal leaders” might soon find such unnecessary interdictions to be worthy of explaining away. Because the line of reasoning behind them rears it’s ugly head far too often around the world on a daily basis, and many millions of otherwise innocent, harmless people have their lives torn apart for doing nothing more than being who they are (and harming nobody for it). How sad that is.