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Homophobia is the irrational fear or hatred of homosexuality, non-heterosexual people, or anything or anybody that deviates from a strictly normative heterosexual approach to sexuality and sexual identity.
Homophobia is common in both the developing and developed worlds. Examples of this range from laws prohibiting gays to marry or adopt children, to hate crimes committed against gay people to the hateful and violent lyrics of some Jamaican reggae performers (notably Buju Banton) and the criminal codes of many African and Middle Eastern nations. 76 countries currently have laws against homosexual activity; in seven of these, the death penalty may apply.
The peer-reviewed Journal of Abnormal Psychology defines homophobia as "an emotional or affective response including fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort, and aversion that an individual experiences in interacting with gay individuals, which may or may not involve a cognitive component."
- 1 Rationalizations of homophobia
- 1.1 "It's not natural"
- 1.2 "It's a perversion"
- 1.3 "It's against God's law"
- 1.4 "It's disgusting"
- 1.5 "It allows corruption, or sexual abuse, in single-sex communities"
- 1.6 "Marriage has a traditional, ancient definition"
- 1.7 "Homosexuality might encourage other perversions"
- 1.8 "Homosexuals choose to be that way"
- 1.9 Sexually transmitted infections
- 1.10 Tax money for LGBT services
- 1.11 "Homosexuals are promiscuous"
- 1.12 Anal sex
- 1.13 Arguments about children and reproduction
- 1.14 "Homosexuals don't even exist, anyway."
- 2 Roots of homophobia
- 3 Homophobia around the world
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Rationalizations of homophobia
Homophobes use several different arguments against homosexuality. Here are some rational responses for some of them:
"It's not natural"
This is an inherently weak and uncogent objection. This argument is a blatant rendition of the appeal to nature, as it assumes that what is natural is acceptable or better and what is unnatural is not. What this would entail logically is that adultery, infanticide, cannibalism, and nakedness must be acceptable as they are "natural," while playing checkers, sleeping on a bed, wearing clothes and indeed cooking meat are not "natural" and thus unacceptable. Most homophobic persons typically do not advocate creating laws outlawing things such as sleeping on beds, not to mention that using computers isn't natural either — yet homophobes clearly use computers, if only to try to defend themselves on various wiki sites.
Moreover, even if it did logically follow that what is natural is good, it turns out that homosexuality occurs in nature; biologists have extensively documented same-sex behavior in over 500 species of animals and observed it in a total of 1,500 species of animals. Bonobos, for example, are known for indulging in almost any "perversion" humanity has thought of — and perhaps some we've missed out on. Mammals aren't the only kind of animal that do this either.
"It's a perversion"
“”I almost can't believe I'm about to do this, but let me explain it to you in the simplest of terms. Pedophiles. F**k. Kids! Okay?! Are you with me so far?! Pedophiles! F**k! Kids! Now I don't know what c**ting planet you live on where two adults having sex is just as wrong as a man raping a child, but if that's how you think, turn this video off.
|—Jim Sterling |
This is simply a variation, with added bigotry, of the "It's not natural" argument. It implies that being gay is a mental disorder or disability even though there is no evidence to support such a claim. Defining homosexuality as a disability is a classic argument from definition fallacy. But the definition of disability does not include sexuality or gender. Being LGBTQ+ in no way impairs your ability to function as a human being in and of itself. In addition, drawing a parallel with sexuality and disability is a very troubling false equivocation, especially because it assumes that disabled people also do not deserve respect and empathy.
Meanwhile, some fundamentalists claim that homosexuality is a creation of the devil.
George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman has the lovely line, "Chastity is the most unnatural of perversions."
"It's against God's law"
Before we try to address this issue: Why do the infidels have to pay attention to your God? Then comes the presuppositional argument that everything is contingent on the God of your religion, or double standard of saying that freedom of religion does not apply to those people, or that separation of church and state does not really exist.
Conservative Christians claim that God condemns homosexuality, but Jesus actually never brought the subject up, as it was apparently not very high on his list of important things to do or not do (although he did give some forceful condemnations of hypocrisy and those who used their temporal or religious authority to oppress others and enrich themselves). While this argument may be relevant for some religious practitioners, it has no relevance to those people who read Scripture in a more accommodating fashion, or who simply do not believe in God, or are followers of a different religion.
It is interesting that the strongest religious criticisms of homosexuality (at least in Western countries) usually come from Christians, but Jesus Christ himself is not recorded as saying anything whatsoever about homosexuality. Biblical condemnations of homosexuality come from the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus (You know, along with not eating shrimp and not wearing clothes made of multple materials) and later apostles such as St Paul. Also of note is that many people in Ancient Rome disapproved of gay marriage even before Christianity came along. Christians may just have wanted to make themselves look homophobic to look acceptable in the eyes of the average Roman.
The Old Testament also explicitly mentions that it is against it because it has perverted many ancient civilizations, which shows that it was written at a time when homophobia was just starting to crop up. This also came at a time when homosexuality was commonly practiced on the streets.
This is simply a value judgment which has no weight outside the mind of the person expressing it. Many people consider mental images of heterosexual sex, or, at least, the mental image of Donald Trump having sex, to be disgusting.
If the standard chauvinist opinion of "disgusting" is being used, we can assume that God is fine with lesbians. That might be why there's no real mention of female homosexuality in the Bible aside from a questionable reference in Romans 1:26. That claim rests on a very shaky foundation, as the full context of the passage seems to be more of a condemnation of shrine prostitutes than of lesbians. It might be the most honest reason, even if it's the most ridiculous.
"It allows corruption, or sexual abuse, in single-sex communities"
Some communities are sensitive to corruption due to sexual relationships, or sexual abuse. How is that problem solved? Gender separation rules out the opportunities for heterosexual relationships. But to rule out homosexual relationships, the gays must be thrown out, too. The Boy Scouts of America is an example. The Catholic Church also intends to end sexual abuse by throwing out gay people. Except abusive priests. They can stay, provided the Church can shuffle them around to another (unsuspecting) congregation.
The problem is that sexual abuse is very different from consensual sexual relationships. Prison rapists are usually not gay, though they are men who have sex with men. The reason is that rape isn't really about sex, but about dominating and abusing others.
"Marriage has a traditional, ancient definition"
- Further information: Same-sex marriage
Homophobes might say that marriage is an ancient institution, clearly defined as a union between man and woman. They ignore that ancient institutions have included slavery, polygamy, forced marriage and child marriage, and that ancient traditions have banned interracial and inter-religious marriage. Also, conservatives' precious Old Testament disagrees with that definition, since its model for marriage seems to be polygamy.
Many conservatives claim that extra-marital sexual relationships are sinful. So if same-sex marriage is not allowed, all same-sex sexual activities would be sinful, by definition.
Homophobes might say that gay marriage would ruin the sanctity of straight marriage. Typically, the sanctity of marriage is only ruined when one partner in the marriage has sex outside of the marriage so it is difficult to see how same-sex marriage could impinge on the sanctity of marriage between straight individuals. Some use vague Non sequitur explanations as to why it would devalue their marriage For example, "If we recognize counterfeit money, it devalues the real thing. Therefore, if we recognize SSM, traditional marriage is devalued."
Besides, straight people have beaten up and devalued marriage on their own with no help from the gays. Straights have allowed divorce, unregistered cohabitation and the de-criminalization of adultery. And many years later, when some gays want to marry, they get the blame for ruining straight marriage.
"Homosexuality might encourage other perversions"
Homophobes might claim that acceptance of homosexuality might be a gateway to acceptance of pedophilia, zoophilia, incest or other perversions, in the same manner as public acceptance of Earl Grey tea is a gateway to public acceptance of heroin. That is a slippery slope fallacious argument; in other words, bullshit. In the past, pederasty certainly existed in Western culture, especially ancient Greece and Rome (and likely fueled some of the early Christians' animus against it), but today's gay communities overwhelmingly condemn pederasty and other such acts just like the rest of us.
"Homosexuals choose to be that way"
Homophobes often claim that those living the "gay lifestyle" have simply chosen to be gay.
This could be correct for any given individual making this argument, but only if they are bisexual. Most people are attracted primarily to either men or women, and can exercise very little, if any, choice in the matter. Bisexual people, however, could conceivably choose to act on their attraction to the opposite sex and ignore their similar attraction to the same sex. But this would not make a bisexual person heterosexual.
Also curious and rarely discussed is why this should even be relevant; it's not as though societies routinely ban behaviors just because they appear to be choices rather than innate and inflexible preferences, whatever that distinction can be said to mean in an apparently deterministic universe. Blind to their own irony, the same people who revile the gays with the non-argument that homosexuality is a "choice" and thus wrong (...implying that it'd be okay if it weren't, as most evidence suggests?) are often very pleased to attempt to inflict a distinctly choice-based religious lifestyle on anyone who'll sit still and listen to their crazy, and none of them ever flips on his gay switch to show us just how easy it is to swap boning preferences.
Also, why would people choose to be gay when they have a higher risk of being harassed?
Sexually transmitted infections
STIs are indeed a public health problem. However, most gay people are not infected. And most know how to protect themselves. Just like straight people. It is simply not a problem unique to homosexuality. Also, some STIs may not really be much more common among men who have sex with men, such as genital herpes.
If one is to believe Warren J. Blumenthal, homophobic conservatives might well be shooting themselves in the foot: "Anti-gay bias causes young people to engage in sexual behavior earlier in order to prove that they are straight. Anti-gay bias contributed significantly to the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Anti-gay bias prevents the ability of schools to create effective honest sexual education programs that would save children's lives and prevent STDs."
HIV rarely spreads through lesbian sexual intercourse. Does this mean we ban all marriages except between two women? I mean, stopping AIDS is super important enough to justify criminalizing loving relationships, right? Nope. (But please note it is not utterly impossible for lesbians to get infected. Stay safe everyone.)
Tax money for LGBT services
Some governments fund LGBT festivals, LGBT education for government employees, condoms, or other services to benefit sexual minorities.
Well, government spending could always be subject to debate, but this spending in no way makes homosexuality, itself, a problem; if gay people had their rights, the services wouldn't be necessary. Furthermore, there are not separate "gay" and "straight" economies: both are part of a wider thing generally known as "the economy". Governments and tax agencies do not employ people to ensure that the taxes paid by heterosexuals only go into programs targeted at sexual minorities, so it is definitely not a matter of "straight" money going to gay people.
Opposition to funding for LGBT services can be a hypocritical point of view when you consider that tax money going to orphanages and public schools could be described as directing tax money, including that paid by gay people, towards the results of heterosexual procreation.
"Homosexuals are promiscuous"
First, even if this were universally true and demonstrable with convincing evidence (which it clearly isn't), it wouldn't mean anything. Promiscuity is not a vice in and of itself, unless you're religious and want to force everyone else to be as miserable as you.
Second, while some gay communities encourage casual sex, some straight communities do too. Meanwhile, many gay people prefer life-long, monogamous relationships. All people, no matter their sexual orientation, have different tastes.
Third, what the hell? You're arguing that gays are promiscuous, so we should keep them from an institution designed to encourage monogamy??
Many homophobic jokes and arguments center around anal sex, taking as read that it's a despicable act and implying that The Gays are obsessed with it. Male-on-male anal sex seems to matter more to homophobes than to gay men. There are some health issues with penile-anal penetration, but these also apply to male-on-female anal fun, which is popular among some young Christians and usually not condemned in the same way. Also, some gay men don't do anal sex anyways. Furthermore, due to the invention of that newfangled piece of technology known as the "strap-on", straight female-on-male anal sex is also possible and regularly indulged in.
Arguments about children and reproduction
Conservatives might shout "Won't somebody think of the children?" and defend the norm of the heterosexual nuclear family. Of course, some children have same-sex parents, and contrary to flawed studies, credible research can't seem to find any difference between them and children raised by opposite-sex parents. Ironically, homophobic policies like bans on same-sex marriage diminish the ability of same-sex parents to form stable households, harming their children. So yes, won't somebody think of the children indeed?
"Homosexuality is not reproductive"
Most sexual encounters, including those within marriage, are non-reproductive. These include barrier birth control, biochemical birth control, fertility awareness, non-penetrative sex, sex with sterilized people, sex with less fertile people (due to old age or other reasons), and homosexuality. Oddly enough, when someone makes the claim that it's all about children, they tend to become very unhappy if someone suggests that sterile couples should also be banned from marrying...almost as if that wasn't their real reason for opposing same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples also commonly do something that is arguably more humanitarian than creating new people: they adopt children. There is also no requirement to make new people anyway, and a growing childfree movement against the entrenched emphasis on family and reproduction, while the world's population is still increasing. Does the planet desperately need more reproductive sex that badly?
"Children need a male and a female role model"
A child has many opportunities to find role models; such role models don't need to be legal guardians of the child. Children of full-time working parents spend more time awake in daycare and school than with their parents. It should also be noted that, despite insistence that having both a male and female parent is vital for child development, homophobes will typically have less of a problem with single parents raising children.
"Children should be raised by their biological parents"
There is little convincing evidence to back up this somewhat arbitrary claim, as a child's development is determined by the relationship and interactions with a parent, rather than pure genetic relationship. There are also many orphans who cannot be raised by their biological parents (because you know, they're dead) and a shortage of adopters.
Stable same-sex couples provide a pool of potential adopters prepared to raise children in a loving environment - one that is probably better, in fact, than what their biological parents may have provided. Same-sex couples never accidentally adopt a baby or have one birthed by a surrogate. This means that on average, same-sex couples are older, more responsible, and far more prepared to raise a child than the average opposite-sex couple.
"The law of fatherhood is not applicable to same-sex couples"
In many jurisdictions, the fatherhood is commonly handed to the mother's husband. Same-sex couples don't function that way. But this can be solved by consensual agreements between the breeders. Notwithstanding some non-consensual events, it's not like they will fertilize by accident, if they are gay.
"All of the above"
The "everything including the kitchen sink" approach is exemplified by a speech that Iowa State Senator Dennis Guth gave in April 2013 in which he accused gay people and homosexuality of breeding mental health problems, shortening people's life spans, causing health problems for heterosexual Americans (by causing "more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth," though what precautionary blood tests have to do with spreading disease is a mystery) and other phenomena, including the downfall of past civilizations due to the failure of traditional marriage. Unsurprisingly, Guth is a freshman Senator and will be up for election again in 2014 so this might explain the reasoning behind such a speech.
"Homosexuals don't even exist, anyway."
Some organizations (and even entire countries) simply deny the existence of homosexuality, seeing it as a rebellious phase, a simpler way to "get some," or simply bisexuality, as opposed to a genuine lack of opposite sex attraction.
- Most homosexual men enjoy women as friends. (Answers in Genesis used this argument.) People making this argument may be thinking that opposite sex friends (sometimes thought of as a psychological impossibility) are some sort of repressed desire for the opposite sex.
- All homosexuals have some degree of OS attraction (also used by the same AiG "Scientist" on the same article). First of all, there is some confirmation bias in the study. He was a reparative therapist, who deals with people who want to "change." People who are in accepting communities, who are content with the same sex, may not feel the urge to change. Secondly, having past straight relationships does NOT make a person straight, any more than eating soup makes it your favorite food. Third, if homosexuals DO feel heterosexual feelings, they are very weak, in the same way that straight people may have faint homosexual feelings. Does that make everyone bi? Fourth, many homosexuals do not find the opposite sex attractive, describing it as "indifferent". Some may describe forced heterosexual relationships as feeling "unnatural" and like "doing it with my sister." Sorry to leave you with that image.
- There are no gay men. They are just too lazy to be with a woman (Used by various homophobes) The homophobe's train of thought probably goes like this:
- Men are naturally promiscuous.
- Women are naturally choosy, slow, and hard to get.
- Men have to go through great struggles just to "get some".
- Since there is no woman in the mix, homosexuality provides men with a simple, lazy, unsophisticated way to "game the system".
- I can't even imagine how you would like a man instead of a beautiful woman with beautiful breasts and luxurious hair! (used by various homophobes to deny the orientation). That's because you are straight. Also, how could heterosexual women like a man instead of a beautiful woman with beautiful breasts and luxurious hair?
Roots of homophobia
“”As I told my homophobic dad: "There's nothing gayer than worrying about what another man does with his dick."
The Freudian view has been that the most virulent homophobia is expressed by those who cannot accept their own same-sex attraction. Indeed such a link has been demonstrated in at least one clinical study (Adams et al 1996). However, a later study noted that Adams et al points out the possibility of the role of anxiety in sexual arousal and found an aversion to same-sex sexual imagery in homophobes. The validity of penile plethysmographs for use in psychological testing has also been called into question. Openly virulent homophobes may indeed be overcompensating for their own homosexuality, though the high profile incidents of said homophobes being outed has likely led to a spotlight effect.
A similar type of overcompensation that has also been theorized is the idea of masculine overcompensation. In this case, the strongest forms of homophobia do not arise from repressed feelings of homosexuality but from threats to masculine identity. However, research has also shown that the belief that homosexuality is biologically determined and thus immutable reduces homophobic attitudes.
Sadly, if these latent feelings are forced into the open, the outcome can be tragic. So called "gay panic" may lead to violence, or worse, and has even been used as a defense in murder trials, with varying degrees of success.
Homophobia around the world
Being gay is still illegal in 76 (!) countries worldwide, occasionally punishable by death. Even where legalized, gay people are subject to discriminatory laws regarding age of consent. Gay marriage and adoption for gay couples is also illegal in many countries.
Homophobia is the irrational fear of homosexuality that leads to gay people being denied their basic rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and expressed in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Supporters of homophobic propositions, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, often attempt to delegitimize homosexuality by arguing any of the illogical arguments above.
Many opponents take it further, alleging a conspiracy theory they dub "the gay agenda", which is the belief that gays and liberals are plotting to use things like the public school system and Hollywood movies to turn every child gay.
Some go so far they turn up the dial to 11. For example: some advocates of firearms, besides arguing they should be totally free to exercise their Second Amendment rights, will often point to the gay agenda as a reason to own a gun. After all, how else will people be able to effectively fight back against the villainous gays that will force them to become homosexuals? This is especially troubling in light of the Orlando Shooting.
Most of the developed world has moved away from the blatant, institutionalized homophobia that used to pervade it. Sadly America is one of the few developed countries that has a limp and is having a hard time catching up. In many states it is still legal to discriminate against gay people or deny them rights and privileges. These are very slowly going away thanks to growing criticism of homophobia and public activism for gay rights.
In 2009, Muslims from Britain, France, and Germany were interviewed for a Gallup poll, one of the questions being whether homosexuality is morally acceptable. 35% of the French Muslims agreed; 19% of the German Muslims agreed; but none of the 500 British Muslims interviewed for the poll agreed.
In November 2012, a same-sex marriage bill (called by some: Mariage Pour Tous - Marriage for Everybody) started to be debated in French Parliament and the first wedding was celebrated in May 2013. Between those dates, France saw huge demonstrations from the ultra-religious/far-right coalition "Manif Pour Tous" (Demonstration For Everybody). Not a single wise person would have considered playing the Gay Agenda/Marriage Drinking Game during that time as alcohol poisoning could result almost instantly. Those events could be surprising to many as Europe and France are considered (since the French revolution) to be way less religious and more advanced on social matters.
Europe, in general, is more accepting of homosexuality and more progressive in terms of protective legislation, than North America.
Due to a lack of stable education systems and secular governments, as well as high levels of radical religious evangelism (both Islamic and Christian), many parts of Africa are infamous for their opposition to homosexuality. Uganda in particular has made waves with its hostile treatment of gay people, passing new laws to persecute them more than they already were, and allowing the public to deny them basic human rights. They've even shut down any support for them. In 2014, Uganda proceeded to broaden the law, resulting in a rise on homophobic violence in the country.
- Steven Anderson
- Ayatollah Khomeni
- East London Mosque
- Fred Phelps
- Haggard's Law
- Jerry Falwell
- Reaction formation
- Same-sex marriage
- Orson Scott Card
- "The Strange, Strange Story of the Gay Fascists" -- a 2008 Huffington Post essay on rampant homophobes with fascist beliefs who turn out to be in the closet (at least to outsiders)
- Meet The Blowtorch-Carrying Gay Marriage Opponent Who Set That General Mills Lawn On Fire, The Smoking Gun (a video that's just as stupid as described)
- "The World's Worst Place To be Gay" -- Gay BBC reporter visits Uganda (57 minute video)
- Her Twitter.
- Where is it illegal to be gay?
- Henry E. Adams, Lester W. Wright, Jr., and Bethany A. Lohr. Is Homophobia Associated with Homosexual Arousal? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. 105, no. 3, p. 440.
- Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, St. Martin's Press, 1999; ISBN 0-312-19239-8
- Harrold, Max (1999-02-16). "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity". The Advocate, reprinted in Highbeam Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- See the Wikipedia article on gay penguins.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWpdRWX_m_A Jimquisition: Mass Effect 3 And The Case For A Gay Shepherd, 5 Spetember 2012
- What Historical And Religious Context Did Paul Address In First Century Rome?
- They probably still condone this, or at least they invented a term for it
- They probably support banning this till relatively recently
- They still discourage this now.
- See the Wikipedia article on Homosexuality in ancient Greece.
- See the Wikipedia article on Homosexuality in ancient Rome.
- Thomas W. Gaither; et al. (2015). "The Influence of Sexual Orientation and Sexual Role on Male Grooming-Related Injuries and Infections". J Sex Med. 12 (3): 631–640. doi:10.1111/jsm.12780.
- Warren J. Blumenthal: 'Homophobia: how we all pay the price' (1992)
- Female-to-female sexual transmission NAM AIDS Map
- See the Wikipedia article on Pegging.
- Such as this Mark Regnerus one here
- Such as this 30-year analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics, with the slight caveat that studies regarding same-sex parenting are observational (because ethics) and tend to be small (because smaller number of same-sex parents)
- GOP State Senator: Homosexual Relationships Pose ‘Health Risks’ To My Family, Thinkprogress.org
- Iowa senator: Public 'bamboozled' into accepting same-sex relationships, Iowa Register
- Iowa Senate 4: Guth over Jennings, Globegazette.com
- Brian P. Meier et al. A secret attraction or defensive loathing? Homophobia, defense, and implicit cognition. Journal of Research in Personality 40 (2006) 377–394.
- Penile plethysmograph (PPG) in The Skeptic's Dictionary
- Robb Willer. Overdoing Gender: A Test of the Masculine Overcompensation Thesis.
- Michael Kimmel. Masculinity as Homophobia.
- Falomir-Pichastor, J. M., & Mugny, G. (2009). “I’m not gay… I’m a real man!”: Heterosexual men’s gender self-esteem and sexual prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35 (9), 1233-1243.
- Gay panic in Arujo case, SF Gate
- Ayo Kimathi certainly is getting ready. Did we also mention he's also a black supremacist who wants to kill white people and also works for Homeland Security?
- Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll The Guardian
-  Page 33
- A revealing map of the countries that are most and least tolerant of homosexuality The Washington Post
- Uganda bans 38 organisations accused of 'promoting homosexuality' The Guardian
- The Guardian: Uganda anti-gay law led to tenfold rise in attacks on LGBTI people, report says
- Africa: Making love a crime: Criminalization of same-sex conduct in Sub-Saharan Africa