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Old 12-21-2007, 10:48 PM   #9
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Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between organisms of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation. When describing the latter, it refers to enduring sexual and romantic attraction towards those of the same sex, but not necessarily to sexual behavior.[1] Homosexuality is contrasted with heterosexuality (attraction, behavior, or orientation between opposite sexes), bisexuality (both sexes), and asexuality (neither sex).

Etymologically, the word homosexual is a Greek and Latin hybrid with homo (often confused with the later Latin meaning of "man", as in homo sapiens) deriving from the Greek word for same, thus connoting sexual acts and affections between members of the same sex, including lesbianism.[2][3] In the English-speaking world, the term gay had been used within the subculture for decades before becoming popularized by the gay rights movement in the 1970s.[citation needed] In a narrow sense, gay refers to male homosexuality, but it often is used in its broadest sense, especially in media headlines and reports, to refer to homosexuality in general. Lesbian, however, always denotes female homosexuality.

Homosexual behavior occurs among numerous animals other than humans, particularly among social animals.[4]

* 1 Overview
* 2 Etymology and usage
* 3 History
o 3.1 Africa
o 3.2 Americas
o 3.3 East Asia
o 3.4 Europe
o 3.5 Middle East, South and Central Asia
o 3.6 South Pacific
* 4 Demographics
* 5 Law, politics, and society
o 5.1 Prejudice against gay and lesbian people
o 5.2 Sexual orientation and the law
o 5.3 Violence against gay and lesbian people
o 5.4 Politics
o 5.5 Coming out
o 5.6 Marriage and civil unions
o 5.7 Parenting
o 5.8 Corporate attitudes
o 5.9 Mental health issues
o 5.10 Gay and lesbian youth
* 6 Military service
* 7 Religion
* 8 Art and literature
* 9 Anthropology
* 10 Sexual practices
* 11 Theories on homosexuality
o 11.1 Biological explanations
+ 11.1.1 Prenatal hormonal theory
+ 11.1.2 Physiological differences in gay men and lesbians
+ 11.1.3 Cognitive differences in gay men and lesbians
+ 11.1.4 Fraternal birth order
o 11.2 Non-biological explanations
+ 11.2.1 Environment
+ 11.2.2 Innate bisexuality
+ 11.2.3 Pathological model of homosexuality
o 11.3 Malleability of homosexuality
* 12 Homosexual behavior in animals
* 13 References
* 14 Bibliography
o 14.1 Books
o 14.2 Journal articles
o 14.3 Online articles
* 15 See also
* 16 External links


Homosexuality has been a feature of human culture since earliest history (see History section below). Generally, and most famously in ancient Greece, erotic attraction and sexual pleasure between males has been an ingrained, accepted part of the cultural norm. However, particular sexual activities (such as receptive anal sex in some cultures, or oral sex in others) were disapproved of, even as other aspects were admired. In cultures under the sway of Abrahamic religions, the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law, a "crime against nature" practiced by choice, and subject to severe penalties, including capital punishment—often inflicted by means of fire so as to purify the unholy action. The condemnation of penetrative sex between males, however, predates Christian dogma, as it was frequent in Ancient Greece, whence the theme of action "against nature," traceable to Plato, originated. [5]

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, a different view began to predominate in medical and psychiatric circles, judging such behavior as indicative of a type of person with a defined and relatively stable sexual orientation. Karl-Maria Kertbeny coined the term homosexual in 1869 in a pamphlet arguing against a Prussian anti-sodomy law.[6][7] Richard von Krafft-Ebing's 1886 book Psychopathia Sexualis elaborated on the concept.[7]

In 1897, British physician Havelock Ellis published similar views in his influential book Sexual Inversion.[8] Although medical texts like these (written partly in Latin to obscure the sexual details) were not widely read by the general public, they did lead to the rise of Magnus Hirschfeld's Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which campaigned from 1897 to 1933 against anti-sodomy laws in Germany, as well as a much more informal, unpublicized movement among British intellectuals and writers, led by such figures as Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds.

In the course of the twentieth century, homosexuality became a subject of considerable study and debate in Western societies, especially after the modern gay rights movement began in 1969. Once viewed by authorities as a pathology or mental illness to be cured, homosexuality is now more often investigated as part of a larger impetus to understand the biology, psychology, politics, genetics, history and cultural variations of sexual practice and identity. The legal and social status of people who perform homosexual acts or identify as gay or lesbian varies enormously across the world and in places remains hotly contested in political and religious debate.

Etymology and usage
Close relationships

Affinity • Attachment • Bonding • Casual • Cohabitation • Compersion • Concubinage • Courtship • Divorce • Dower, dowry and bride price • Friendship • Family • Husband • Infatuation • Intimacy • Jealousy • Limerence • Love • Marriage • Monogamy • Nonmonogamy • Office romance • Passion • Partner • Pederasty • Polygamy• Platonic love • Psychology of monogamy • Relationship abuse • Romance • Sexuality • Separation • Wedding • Widowhood • Wife
v • d • e

Main article: Terminology of homosexuality

Zephyrus and Hyacinthus Attic red-figure cup from Tarquinia, 480 BC (Boston Museum of Fine Arts)
Zephyrus and Hyacinthus
Attic red-figure cup from Tarquinia, 480 BC (Boston Museum of Fine Arts)

The adjective homosexual describes behavior, relationships, people, etc. The adjectival form literally means "same sex", being a hybrid formed from the Greek prefix homo- ("same"), and the Latin root sex. Many modern style guides recommend against using homosexual as a noun, instead using gay man or lesbian.[9] Similarly, some recommend completely avoiding usage of homosexual as having a negative and discredited clinical history and because the word only refers to one's sexual behavior, and not to romantic feelings.[9] Gay and lesbian are the most common alternatives. The first letters are frequently combined to create the acronym LGBT (sometimes written as GLBT), in which B and T refer to bisexuals and transgender people.

The first known appearance of homosexual in print is found in an 1869 German pamphlet by the Austrian-born novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, published anonymously.[10] The prevalence of the concept owes much to the work of the German psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing and his 1886 work Psychopathia Sexualis.[11] As such, the current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th century tradition of personality taxonomy. These continue to influence the development of the modern concept of sexual orientation, gaining associations with romantic love and identity in addition to its original, exclusively sexual meaning.

Although early writers also used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-sex context (such as an all-girls' school), today the term is used exclusively in reference to sexual attraction and activity. The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not specifically sexual. There is also a word referring to same-sex love, homophilia.

Other terms ******* men who have sex with men or MSM (used in the medical community when specifically discussing sexual activity), homoerotic (referring to works of art), heteroflexible (referring to a person who identifies as heterosexual, but occasionally engages in same-sex sexual activities), and metrosexual (referring to a non-gay man with stereotypically gay tastes in food, fashion, and design).

Pejorative terms ******* queer, faggot, fairy, poof, and homo. Beginning in the 1990s, some of these have been "reclaimed" as positive words by gay men and lesbians, as in the usage of queer studies, queer theory, and even the popular American television program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. However, as with ethnic slurs and racial slurs, the misuse of these terms can still be highly offensive; the range of acceptable use depends on the context and speaker.

Conversely, gay, a word originally embraced by homosexual men and women as a positive, affirmative term (as in gay liberation and gay rights), has come into widespread pejorative use among young people.


Main articles: LGBT history and Timeline of LGBT history

The lives of many historical figures including Socrates, Alexander the Great, Lord Byron, Edward II, Hadrian, Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, Donatello and Christopher Marlowe included or were centered upon love and sexual relationships with people of their own sex. Terms such as gay or bisexual have been applied to them, but many, such as Michel Foucault, regard this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times.[12]

A common thread of constructionist argument is that no one in antiquity or the Middle Ages experienced homosexuality as an exclusive, permanent, or defining mode of sexuality. John Boswell has criticized this argument by citing ancient Greek writings by Plato,[13] which he says indicate knowledge of exclusive homosexuality.


Though often denied or ignored by European explorers, homosexual expression in native Africa was also present and took a variety of forms:

* Anthropologists Murray and Roscoe report that women in Lesotho have engaged in socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships" named motsoalle.[14]

* E. E. Evans-Pritchard reported that male Azande warriors (in the northern Congo) routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives. The practice had died out in the early 20th century but was recounted to him by the elders.[15]

* An academic paper by Stephen O. Murray examines the history of descriptions of "Homosexuality in traditional Sub-Saharan Africa"PDF (228 KiB).

Dance to the BerdacheSac and Fox Nation ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person. George Catlin (1796-1872); Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Dance to the Berdache
Sac and Fox Nation ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person. George Catlin (1796-1872); Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

In North American Native Society, the most common form of same-sex sexuality seems to center around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Such people seem to have been recognized by the majority of tribes, each of which had its particular term for the role. Typically the two-spirit individual was recognized early in life, was given a choice by the parents to follow the path, and if the child accepted the role then the child was raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen. Two-spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans. Their sexual life would be with the ordinary tribe members of the opposite sex. Male two-spirit people were prized as wives because of their greater strength and ability to work.
Balboa setting his war dogs upon Indian practitioners of male love in 1513; New York Public Library
Balboa setting his war dogs upon Indian practitioners of male love in 1513; New York Public Library

Homosexual and transgender individuals were also common among other pre-conquest civilizations in Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, Quechas, Moches, Zapotecs, and the Tupinambá of Brazil.[16][17]

The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover "sodomy" openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches (as the Spanish called them) under their rule to severe penalties, including public execution and burning. In a famous example of homophobic cruelty, in 1513 the conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa

discovered that the village of Quarequa [in modern-day Panama] was stained by the foulest vice. The king’s brother and a number of other courtiers were dressed as women, and according to the accounts of the neighbours shared the same passion. Vasco ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs. The Spaniards commonly used their dogs in fighting against these naked people, and the dogs threw themselves upon them as though they were wild boars on timid deer. [18]

East Asia
A woman spying on a pair of male lovers, Qing Dynasty. Chinese Sexual Culture Museum in Shanghai.
A woman spying on a pair of male lovers, Qing Dynasty. Chinese Sexual Culture Museum in Shanghai.

In East Asia same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history. Early European travelers were taken aback by its widespread acceptance and open display. None of the East Asian countries today have specific legal prohibitions against homosexuality or homosexual behavior.

Homosexuality in China, known as the pleasures of the bitten peach, the cut sleeve, or the southern custom, has been recorded since approximately 600 BCE. These euphemistic terms were used to describe behaviors, but not identities (recently the Chinese society adapted the term "brokeback," 斷背 duanbei, due to the success of Taiwanese director Ang Lee's film Brokeback Mountain).[19] The relationships were marked by differences in age and social position. However, the instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the Hong Lou Meng (Dream of the Red Chamber, or Story of the Stone) seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexuals during the same period.

Homosexuality in Japan, variously known as shudo or nanshoku, terms influenced by Chinese literature, has been documented for over one thousand years and was an integral part of Buddhist monastic life[citation needed] and the samurai tradition. This same-sex love culture gave rise to strong traditions of painting and literature documenting and celebrating such relationships.

Similarly, in Thailand, Kathoey, or "ladyboys," have been a feature of Thai society for many centuries, and Thai kings had male as well as female lovers. While Kathoey may encompass simple effeminacy or transvestism, it most commonly is treated in Thai culture as a third gender. They are generally accepted by society, and Thailand has never had legal prohibitions against homosexuality or homosexual behavior. The teachings of Buddhism, dominant in Thai society, were accepting of a third gender designation[citation needed].


Further information: Homosexuality in ancient Greece, Homosexuality in ancient Rome

Roman man and youth in bed, middle of the 1st century AD. Found in Bittir (?), near Jerusalem
Roman man and youth in bed, middle of the 1st century AD. Found in Bittir (?), near Jerusalem

The earliest Western documents (in the form of literary works, art objects, as well as mythographic materials) concerning same-sex relationships are derived from ancient Greece. They depict a world in which relationships with women and relationships with youths were the essential foundation of a normal man's love life. Same-sex relationships were a social institution variously constructed over time and from one city to another. The practice, a system of relationships between an adult male and an adolescent coming of age, was often valued for its pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control, and occasionally blamed for causing disorder. Plato praised its benefits in his early writings,[20] but in his late works proposed its prohibition.[21]

In Rome, the pagan emperor Hadrian allegedly practiced homosexuality himself, but the Christian emperor Theodosius I decreed a law on August 6, 390, condemning passive homosexual people to be burned at the stake. Justinian, towards the end of his reign, expanded the proscription to the active partner as well (in 558), warning that such conduct can lead to the destruction of cities through the "wrath of God". Notwithstanding these regulations, taxes on brothels of boys available for homosexual sex continued to be collected until the end of the reign of Anastasius I in 518.

During the Renaissance, rich cities in northern Italy, Florence and Venice in particular, were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a considerable part of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome.[22][23] But even as the majority of the male population was engaging in same-sex relationships, the authorities, under the aegis of the Officers of the Night court, were prosecuting, fining, and imprisoning a good portion of that population. The eclipse of this period of relative artistic and erotic freedom was precipitated by the rise to power of the moralizing monk Girolamo Savonarola. In northern Europe the artistic discourse on sodomy was turned against its proponents by artists such as Rembrandt, who in his Rape of Ganymede no longer depicted Ganymede as a willing youth, but as a squalling baby attacked by a rapacious bird of prey.

The relationships of socially prominent figures, such as King James I and the Duke of Buckingham, served to highlight the issue, including in anonymously authored street pamphlets: "The world is chang'd I know not how, For men Kiss Men, not Women now;...Of J. the First and Buckingham: He, true it is, his Wives Embraces fled, To slabber his lov'd Ganimede;" (Mundus Foppensis, or The Fop Display'd, 1691.)

Love Letters Between a Certain Late Nobleman and the Famous Mr. Wilson was published in 1723 in England and was presumed to be a novel by some modern scholars. The 1749 edition of John Cleland's popular novel Fanny Hill includes a homosexual scene, but this was removed in its 1750 edition. Also in 1749, the earliest extended and serious defense of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified, written by Thomas Cannon, was published, but was suppressed almost immediately. It includes the passage, "Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms; downright Nonsense. Desire is an amatory Impulse of the inmost human Parts."[24] Around 1785 Jeremy Bentham wrote another defense, but this was not published until 1978.[25] Executions for sodomy continued in the Netherlands until 1803, and in England until 1835.

Between 1864 and 1880 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published a series of twelve tracts, which he collectively titled Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. In 1867 he became the first self-proclaimed homosexual person to speak out publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws.

Sir Richard Francis Burton's Terminal Essay, Part IV/D appendix in his translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885–86) provided an effusive overview of homosexuality in the Middle East and tropics. Sexual Inversion by Havelock Ellis, published in 1896, challenged theories that homosexuality was abnormal, as well as stereotypes, and insisted on the ubiquity of homosexuality and its association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Appendix A included A Problem in Greek Ethics by John Addington Symonds, which had been privately distributed in 1883. Beginning in 1894 with Homogenic Love, Socialist activist and poet Edward Carpenter wrote a string of pro-homosexual articles and pamphlets, and "came out" in 1916 in his book My Days and Dreams.

In 1900, Elisar von Kupffer published an anthology of homosexual literature from antiquity to his own time, Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur. His aim was to broaden the public perspective of homosexuality beyond it being viewed simply as a medical or biological issue, but also as an ethical and cultural one.

Middle East, South and Central Asia
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (April 2007)
Dance of a bacchá (dancing boy) Samarkand, (ca 1905 - 1915), photo Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Dance of a bacchá (dancing boy)
Samarkand, (ca 1905 - 1915), photo Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Further information: Homosexuality and Islam

Among many Middle Eastern Muslim cultures, homosexual practices were widespread and public. Persian poets, such as Sa’di (d. 1291), Hafez (d. 1389), and Jami (d. 1492), wrote poems replete with homoerotic allusions. The two most commonly documented forms were commercial sex with transgender males or males enacting transgender roles exemplified by the köçeks and the bacchás, and Sufi spiritual practices in which the practitioner crossed over from the idealized chaste form of the practice to one in which the desire is consummated.

In Persia homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were tolerated in numerous public places, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, bathhouses, and coffee houses. In the early Safavid era (1501–1723), male houses of prostitution (amrad khane) were legally recognized and paid taxes.

A tradition of art and literature sprang up constructing Middle Eastern homosexuality. Muslim—often Sufi—poets in medieval Arab lands and in Persia wrote odes to the beautiful wine boys who, they wrote, served them in the taverns. In many areas the practice survived into modern times, as documented by Richard Francis Burton, André Gide, and others.

In the Turkic-speaking areas, one manifestation of this same-sex love was the bacchá, adolescent or adolescent-seeming male entertainers and sex workers.

In other areas male love continues to surface despite efforts to keep it quiet.

The prevailing pattern of same-sex relationships in the temperate and sub-tropical zone stretching from Northern India to the Western Sahara is one in which the relationships were—and are—either gender-structured or age-structured or both. In recent years, egalitarian relationships modeled on the western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare.

Today, governments in the Middle East often ignore, deny the existence of, or criminalize homosexuality. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his famous 2007 speech at Columbia University, asserted that there are no gay people in Iran. Gay people do live in Iran, but most keep their sexuality a secret for fear of government sanction or rejection by their families.[26]

South Pacific

In many societies of Melanesia, same-sex relationships are an integral part of the culture. Traditional Melanesian insemination rituals also existed where a boy, upon reaching a certain age, would be paired with an older adolescent who would become his mentor and whom he would ritually fellate over a number of years in order to develop his own masculinity. In certain tribes of Papua New Guinea, for example, it is considered a normal ritual responsibility for a boy to have a relationship in order to accomplish his ascent into manhood. Many Melanesian societies, however, have become hostile towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.[27]


Main article: Demographics of sexual orientation

Measuring the prevalence of homosexuality is difficult because there is a lack of reliable data:

* Survey data regarding stigmatized or deeply personal feelings or activities are often inaccurate. Participants often avoid answers which they feel society, the survey-takers, or they themselves dislike.
* The research must measure some characteristic that may or may not be defining of sexual orientation. The class of people with same-sex desires may be larger than the class of people who act on those desires, which in turn may be larger than the class of people who self-identify as gay/lesbian/bisexual.[28]
* In studies measuring sexual activity, respondents may have different ideas about what constitutes a "sexual act."

Reliable data as to the size of the gay and lesbian population would be valuable by informing public policy.[28] For example, demographics would help in calculating the costs and benefits of domestic partnership benefits, of the impact of legalizing gay adoption, and of the impact of the U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.[28] Further, knowledge of the size of the "gay and lesbian population holds promise for helping social scientists understand a wide array of important questions—questions about the general nature of labor market choices, accumulation of human capital, specialization within households, discrimination, and decisions about geographic location."[28]

Estimates of the incidence of homosexuality range from >1% to 10% of the population, usually finding there are slightly more gay men than lesbians.[29][30][31]

Law, politics, and society

Further information: Societal attitudes towards homosexuality

Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships vary over time and place, from expecting all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death.

Most nations do not impede consensual sex between unrelated individuals above the local age of consent. Some jurisdictions further recognize identical rights, protections, and privileges for the family structures of same-sex couples, including marriage. Some nations mandate that all individuals restrict themselves to heterosexual relationships—that is, in some jurisdictions homosexual activity is illegal. Offenders face up to the death penalty in some fundamentalist Muslim areas such as Iran and parts of Nigeria. There are, however, often significant differences between official policy and real-world enforcement. See Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered.

Prejudice against gay and lesbian people

Further information: Homophobia, Heterosexism, LGBT stereotypes

In many cultures, gay and lesbian people are frequently subject to prejudice and discrimination. Like many other minority groups that are the objects of prejudice, they are also subject to stereotyping. Gay men are seen as effeminate and fashionable, often identified with a lisp or a female-like tone and lilt.[32][33][34] They are stereotyped as being promiscuous and unsuccessful in developing enduring romantic relationships, despite research to the contrary.[35] Gay men are also often alleged as having pedophiliac tendencies and more likely to commit child sexual abuse than the heterosexual male population, a view rejected by mainstream psychiatric groups and contradicted by research.[36][37][38] Lesbians are seen as butch, and sometimes "man-haters"[39] or radical feminists.[40]

Homosexuality has at times been used as a scapegoat by governments facing problems. For example, during the early 14th century, accusations of homosexual behavior were instrumental in disbanding the Knights Templar under Philip IV of France, who profited greatly from confiscating the Templars' wealth. In the 20th century, Nazi Germany's persecution of homosexual people was based on the proposition that they posed a threat to "normal" masculinity as well as a risk of contamination to the "Aryan race".

In the 1950s, at the height of the red scare in the United States, hundreds of federal and state employees were fired because of their homosexuality in the so-called lavender scare. (Ironically, politicians opposed to the scare tactics of McCarthyism tried to discredit Senator Joseph McCarthy by hinting during a televised Congressional committee meeting that McCarthy's top aide, Roy Cohn, was homosexual, as he in fact was.)

A recent instance of scapegoating is the burning of 6,000 books of homoerotic poetry of 8th c. Persian-Arab poet Abu Nuwas by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in January 2001, to placate Islamic fundamentalists.[41][42]

Sexual orientation and the law

Further information: Homosexuality laws of the world, LGBT rights by country

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In some cultures homosexual acts are considered "unnatural" and are outlawed. In some Muslim nations (such as Iran) and African countries it remains a capital crime. In a highly publicized case, two male teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, were hanged in Iran in 2005 reportedly because they had been caught having sex with each other.[43]

* Employment discrimination refers to discriminatory employment practices such as bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, and various types of harassment. In the United States there is "very little statutory, common law, and case law establishing employment discrimination based upon sexual orientation as a legal wrong."[44] Some exceptions and alternative legal strategies are available. President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 13087 (1998) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in the competitive service of the federal civilian workforce,[45] and federal non-civil service employees may have recourse under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.[46] Private sector workers may have a Title VII action under a quid pro quo sexual harassment theory,[47] a "hostile work environment" theory,[48] a sexual stereotyping theory,[49] or others.[44]

* Housing discrimination refers to discrimination against potential or current tenants by landlords. In the United States, there is no federal law against such discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but at least thirteen states and many major cities have enacted laws prohibiting it.[50]

* A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as sex crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but is typically understood by courts to ******* any sexual act which does not lead to procreation. Furthermore, Sodomy has many synonyms: buggery, crime against nature, unnatural act, deviant sexual intercourse. It also has a range of similar euphemisms.[51] While in theory this may ******* heterosexual oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, and bestiality, in practice such laws are primarily enforced against sex between men (particularly anal sex).[52] In the United States, 47 out of 50 states had repealed any specifically anti-homosexual-conduct laws when the Supreme Court invalidated all sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas.

* Hate crimes (also known as bias crimes) are crimes motivated by bias against an identifiable social group, usually groups defined by race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation. In the United States, 45 states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of bias-motivated violence or intimidation (the exceptions are AZ, GA, IN, SC, and WY). Each of these statutes covers bias on the basis of race, religion, and ethnicity; 32 of them cover sexual orientation, 28 cover gender, and 11 cover transgender/gender-identity.[53]

Violence against gay and lesbian people

Main article: Violence against LGBT people

In the United States, the FBI reported that 15.6% of hate crimes reported to police in 2004 were based on perceived sexual orientation. 61% of these attacks were against gay men.[54] The 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student, is the most famous incident in the United States.[citation needed]

Homosexual acts are punishable by death in some present-day countries including Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.[55]


Further information: LGBT social movements, LGBT rights by country

Burning of SodomitesThe Knight von Hohenberg and his squire being burned at the stake for sodomy, Zurich 1482 (Spiezer Schilling)
Burning of Sodomites
The Knight von Hohenberg and his squire being burned at the stake for sodomy, Zurich 1482 (Spiezer Schilling)

Although homosexual acts were decriminalized in some parts of the Western world, such as in Denmark in 1933, in Sweden in 1944, in the United Kingdom in 1967, and in Canada in 1969, it was not until the mid-1970s that the gay community first began to achieve actual, though limited, civil rights in some developed countries. A turning point was reached in 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, thus negating its previous definition of homosexuality as a clinical mental disorder. In 1977, Quebec became the first state-level jurisdiction in the world to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Since the 1960s, in part due to their history of shared oppression, many LGBT people in the West, particularly those in major metropolitan areas, have developed a so-called gay culture. To many, gay culture is exemplified by the gay pride movement, with annual parades and displays of rainbow flags. Yet not all LGBT people choose to participate in "queer culture", and many gay men and women specifically decline to do so. To some it seems to be a frivolous display, perpetuating gay stereotypes. To some others, the gay culture represents heterophobia and is scorned as widening the gulf between gay and non-gay people.

With the outbreak of AIDS in the early 1980s, many LGBT groups and individuals organized campaigns to promote efforts in AIDS education, prevention, research, patient support, and community outreach, as well as to demand government support for these programs. Gay Men's Health Crisis, Project Inform, and ACT UP are some notable American examples of the LGBT community's response to the AIDS crisis.

The bewildering death toll wrought by the AIDS epidemic at first seemed to slow the progress of the gay rights movement, but in time it galvanized some parts of the LGBT community into community service and political action, and challenged the heterosexual community to respond compassionately. Major American motion pictures from this period that dramatized the response of individuals and communities to the AIDS crisis ******* An Early Frost (1985), Longtime Companion (1990), And the Band Played On (1993), Philadelphia (1993), and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989), the last referring to the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, last displayed in its entirety on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in 1996.

During the 1980s and 1990s, most developed countries enacted laws decriminalizing homosexual behavior and prohibiting discrimination against lesbians and gays in employment, housing, and services. Yet as LGBT people slowly gained legal protection and social acceptance, gay bashing and hate crimes also increased due to heterosexism and homophobia (See Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered).

Publicly gay politicians have attained numerous government posts, even in countries that had sodomy laws or outright mass murder of gays in their recent past.

Gay British politicians ******* former UK Cabinet ministers Chris Smith (now Lord Smith of Finsbury who is also a rare example of an openly HIV positive statesman) and Nick Brown, and, most famously, Peter Mandelson, a European Commissioner and close friend of Tony Blair. Openly gay Per-Kristian Foss was the Norwegian Minister of Finance until September 2005.

Coming out

Main article: Coming out

Many people who feel attracted to members of their own sex have a so-called "coming out" at some point in their lives. Generally, coming out is described in three phases. The first phase is the phase of "knowing oneself," and the realization or decision emerges that one is open to same-sex relations. This is often described as an internal coming out. The second phase involves one's decision to come out to others, e.g. family, friends, and/or colleagues. This occurs with many people as early as age 11, but others do not clarify their sexual orientation until age 40 or older. The third phase more generally involves living openly as an LGBT person.[56] In the United States today, people often come out during high school or college age. At this age, they may not trust or ask for help from others, especially when their orientation is not accepted in society. Sometimes their own parents are not even informed.

Outing is the practice of publicly revealing the sexual orientation of a closeted person.[57] Notable politicians, celebrities, military service people, and clergy members have been outed, with motives ranging from malice to political or moral beliefs. Many commentators oppose the practice altogether,[58] while some encourage outing public figures who use their positions of influence to harm other gay people.[59]

Marriage and civil unions

Further information: Same-sex marriage, Status of same-sex marriage

No information Homosexuality legal Same sex marriages Same sex unions No same sex unions International marriage licenses recognized Homosexuality illegal Minimal penalty Large penalty Life in prison Death penalty
No information Homosexuality legal Same sex marriages Same sex unions No same sex unions International marriage licenses recognized Homosexuality illegal Minimal penalty Large penalty Life in prison Death penalty

Government recognition of same-sex marriage is presently available in six countries and two U.S. states. The Netherlands was the first country to authorize same-sex marriage in 2001 and they are now also recognized in Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. states of Massachusetts and Iowa, though Iowa's issuance of marriage licenses is on hold until a Supreme Court appeal is heard. Israel's High Court of Justice ruled to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other countries, although it is still illegal to perform them within the country.

Other countries, including the majority of European nations, have enacted laws allowing civil unions, designed to give gay couples similar rights as married couples concerning legal issues such as inheritance and immigration. Most Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, with the sole exception of the Faroe Islands) have enacted civil union laws.

Jurisdictions in the U.S. that offer civil unions or domestic partnerships granting nearly all of the state-recognized rights of marriage to same-sex couples ******* California (2000), Vermont (2000), Connecticut (2005), New Jersey (2006), and New Hampshire (2007). States in the U.S. with domestic partnerships or similar status granting some of the rights of marriage ******* Hawaii (1996), Maine (1999), Oregon (2007), Washington (2007), as well as the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) (2001).

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Main article: LGBT parenting

Many openly LGBT people are parents, often by way of adoption, donor insemination, foster parenting, or surrogacy. In the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home.[60]

Gay and lesbian parenting enjoys broad support from medical experts, including the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the American Bar Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.[61]

The American Psychological Association in particular has stated that:

there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children…research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish….[60]

Nevertheless, LGBT parenting in general, and adoption by LGBT couples in particular, are controversial in many Western countries.[citation needed]

Corporate attitudes

In some capitalist countries, large private sector firms often lead the way in the equal treatment of gay men and lesbians. For instance, more than half of the Fortune 500 offer domestic partnership benefits and 49 of the Fortune 50 companies ******* sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies (only ExxonMobil does not).[62][63]

Mental health issues

Negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality contribute to stress and related mental disorders, and even suicide, in the LGBT community. However, there is evidence that the liberalization of these attitudes over the past few decades has resulted in a decrease in such mental health risks among younger LGBT people.[64]

Gay and lesbian youth

Gay and lesbian youth bear an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, school problems, and isolation because of a "hostile and condemning environment, verbal and physical abuse, rejection and isolation from family and peers".[65]

Crisis centers in larger cities and information sites on the Internet have arisen to help youth and adults.[66] The Trevor Helpline, a suicide prevention helpline for gay youth, was established following the 1998 airing on HBO of the Academy Award winning short film Trevor.

Military service

Main article: Sexual orientation and military service

Some ancient societies, such as Greece and Japan, fostered erotic love bonds between experienced warriors and their apprentices. It was believed that a man and youth who were in love with each other would fight harder and with greater morale. A classic example of a military force built upon this belief is the Sacred Band of Thebes.

The adoption of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century and subsequent predominance of Christianity led to a diminished emphasis on erotic love among military forces. By the time of the Crusades, the military of Europe had largely switched gears, asserting that carnal relations between males were sinful and therefore had no place in an army that served their perception of God's will. The Knights Templar, a prominent military order, was destroyed by accusations (probably fabricated) of sodomy.

The Arab world and Asia, by contrast, did not adopt such strict views. A classic work of Middle Eastern literature known as The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights) documents several accounts of intimate relationships between men and boys. Artwork that has survived from this period documents such relationships in both cultures.

The modern world has brought about a fundamental shift in the acceptance of homosexual practices. Europe and North America have seen growing acceptance as a result of modern liberalism and the Gay Liberation movement. By contrast, many Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries have gone from tolerance to outright hostility. The only nation in the region with significantly different policies is Israel.

The United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands admit openly gay service members, and others—like the United States, and many nations in South America and the Caribbean—either quiet or discharge anyone found to be engaging in homosexual relations or openly identifying as gay; the United States is known for its 1993 "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The traditional justification for excluding openly gay service members is that it may lead to "harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness".[67] The British military, which removed their restriction against gay service members in 2000, has not experienced any of these feared results.[67]


Main article: Religion and homosexuality

The relationship between religion and homosexuality varies greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and sects, and regarding different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Currently, bodies and doctrines of the Abrahamic religions generally view homosexuality negatively, from quietly discouraging homosexual activity to explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality. Some teach that homosexual orientation itself is sinful, while most assert that only homosexual behavior is a sin. Some have claimed that gay men and lesbians can change their sexual orientations through religious faith and practice. Exodus International is the largest ostensibly ex-gay group. Groups not influenced by the Abrahamic religions have sometimes regarded homosexuality as sacred. In the wake of colonialism and imperialism undertaken by countries of the Abrahamic faiths some cultures have adopted new attitudes antagonistic towards homosexuality.

The overall trend of greater acceptance of gay men and women in the latter part of the 20th century was not limited to secular institutions; it was also seen in some religious institutions. Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism outside Israel has begun to facilitate religious weddings for gay adherents in their synagogues. Jewish Theological Seminary, considered to be the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism, decided in March 2007 to begin accepting gay and lesbian applicants, after scholars who guide the movement lifted the ban on gay ordination.[68]

In 2005, the United Church of Christ became the largest Christian denomination in the United States to formally endorse same-sex marriage.

On the other hand, the Anglican Communion encountered discord that caused a rift between the African (except Southern Africa) and Asian Anglican churches on the one hand and North American churches on the other when American and Canadian churches openly ordained gay clergy and began blessing same-sex unions. Other churches such as the Methodist Church had experienced trials of gay clergy who some claimed were a violation of religious principles resulting in mixed verdicts dependent on geography. Most Abrahamic religions retain the viewpoint that homosexual behavior is a sin.

Some religious groups promote boycotts of corporations whose policies support the LGBT community. In early 2005, the American Family Association threatened a boycott of Ford products to protest Ford's perceived support of "the homosexual agenda and homosexual marriage".[69] After meeting with representatives of the group, Ford announced it was curtailing ads in a number of major gay publications (thus depriving them of a major source of income), an action it claimed to be determined not by cultural but by "cost-cutting" factors. That statement was contradicted by the AFA, which claimed it had a "good faith agreement" that Ford would cease such ads. Soon afterwards, as a result of a strong outcry from the gay community, Ford backtracked and announced it would continue ads in gay publications, in response to which the AFA denounced Ford for "violating" the agreement, and renewed threats of a boycott.[70]

Art and literature

Further information: Homoeroticism, Lesbian literature, Gay literature

Young men sipping tea, reading poetry, and making love Individual panel from a hand scroll on homosexual themes, paint on silk; China, Qing dynasty (c. 18th–19th); Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana
Young men sipping tea, reading poetry, and making love
Individual panel from a hand scroll on homosexual themes, paint on silk; China, Qing dynasty (c. 18th–19th); Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana

The record of same-sex love has been preserved through literature and art. Male homoerotic sensibilities are visible in the foundations of art in the West, to the extent that those roots can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Homer's Iliad is considered to have the love between two men as its central feature, a view held since antiquity. Plato's Symposium also gives readers commentary on the subject, at one point putting forth the claim that male homosexual love is superior to heterosexual love.

The European tradition of homoeroticism was continued throughout the ages in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Since the Renaissance, both male and female homoeroticism has remained a common theme in the visual arts of the West.

In Islamic societies homoeroticism was present in the work of such writers as Abu Nuwas and Omar Khayyam. The Tale of Genji, called the "world's first real novel", fostered this tradition in Japan, as did the Chinese literary tradition in works such as Bian er Zhai and Jin Ping Mei. Today, the Japanese anime subgenre yaoi centers on gay men. Japan is unusual in that the culture's male homoerotic art has typically been the work of female artists, mirroring the case of lesbian eroticism in western art.

In the twentieth century, entertainers such as Noel Coward, Madonna, k.d. lang, and David Bowie have brought homoeroticism into the field of western popular music. It is through these and other modern songwriters and poets that female homoerotic work by women, rather than erotic art by men with lesbian themes, has had its greatest cultural impact in the West since the ancient Greek poet Sappho.

In the 1990s, a number of American television comedies began to feature homosexual themes, and characters who expressed same-sex attractions. The 1997 coming-out of comedian Ellen DeGeneres on her show Ellen was front-page news in America and brought the show its highest ratings. However, public interest in the show swiftly declined after this, and the show was cancelled after one more season. Immediately afterward, Will & Grace, which ran from 1998 to 2005 on NBC, became the most successful series to focus on male homosexuality.

Playwrights have penned such popular homoerotic works as Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Homosexuality has also been a frequent theme in Broadway musicals, such as A Chorus Line and Rent. In 2005, the film Brokeback Mountain was a financial and critical success internationally. Unlike most gay film characters, both the film's bisexual lovers were traditionally masculine. The movie's success was considered a milestone in the public acceptance of the American gay rights movement.


Scholars who study the social construction of homosexuality investigate the various forms that same-sex relationships have taken in different societies, and look for patterns as well as differences. Their work suggests that the concept of homosexuality would best be rendered as "homosexualities". Anthropologists group these socio-historical variations into three separate categories:[71][72]
Association Annotations See also
Egalitarian Features two partners with no relevance to age. Additionally, both play the same socially accepted sex role as heterosexuals of their own sex. This is exemplified by relationships currently prevalent in Western society between partners of similar age and sex. Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures
Gender-structured Features each partner playing a different gender role. This is exemplified by traditional relations between men in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and Central and South Asia, as well as Two-Spirit or shamanic gender-changing practices seen in native societies. In North America, this is best represented by the butch–femme practice. Homosexuality and Islam, Two-Spirit, and Hijra
Age-structured Features partners of different ages, usually one adolescent and the other adult. This is exemplified by pederasty among the Classical Greeks or those engaged in by novice samurai with more experienced warriors; southern Chinese boy marriage rites; and ongoing Central Asian and Middle Eastern practices. Shudo, Pederasty, Historical pederastic couples, and Homosexuality in China

Usually in any society one form of homosexuality predominates, though others are likely to co-exist. As historian Rictor Norton points out in his Intergenerational and Egalitarian Models, in ancient Greece egalitarian relationships co-existed (albeit less privileged) with the institution of pederasty, and fascination with adolescents can also be found in modern sexuality, both heterosexual and homosexual. Egalitarian homosexuality is the principal form present in the Western world, while age- and gender-structured homosexuality are less common. As a byproduct of growing Western cultural dominance, this egalitarian homosexuality is spreading from Western culture to non-Western societies, although there are still defined differences between the various cultures.

Sexual practices

Lesbian possibilities ******* tribadism, mutual masturbation, cunnilingus, and the use of sex toys for vaginal or oral penetration or clitoral stimulation. Gay men can engage in mutual masturbation, intercrural sex, oral sex and anal sex. As with any sexual relationship, people may begin with various forms of foreplay such as fondling, caressing, and kissing, and may eventually progress from there.

Theories on homosexuality

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated, "Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences."[73] The American Psychological Association has stated that "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people". However, it states that for most people, sexual orientation is determined at an early age.[74]

The degree to which sexual orientation is determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises fears about genetic profiling and prenatal testing.[75]

Biological explanations

Main article: Biology and sexual orientation

In 1993, Dean Hamer found the genetic marker Xq28 on the X chromosome. Hamer's study found a link between the Xq28 marker and male homosexuality,[76] but the original study's results have been disputed.[77] Several mutations have been identified in flies, such as changes in the fruitless gene, cause male flies to court and attempt to mate with other males; however, when a modified male fruit fly is isolated with only female fruit flies, then he will attempt to mate with them.[78]

Twin studies give indications that male homosexuality is genetically mediated. One common type of twin study compares the monozygotic (or identical) twins of people possessing a particular trait to the dizygotic (non-identical, or fraternal) twins of people possessing the trait. Bailey and Pillard (1991) in a study of gay twins found that 52% of monozygotic brothers and 22% of the dizygotic twins were concordant for homosexuality.[79] Bailey, Dunne and Martin (2000) used the Australian twin registry to obtain a sample of 4,901 twins.[80]

Prenatal hormonal theory

Main article: Prenatal hormones and sexual orientation

Simon LeVay explains the basics of this theory:

In experimental animals it’s been well established that the sexual differentiation of the body and brain results primarily from the influence of sex hormones secreted by the testes or ovaries (Arnold 2002). Males have high levels of testosterone in fetal life (after functional development of the testes) and around the time of birth, as well as at and after puberty. Females have low levels of all sex hormones in fetal life, and high levels of estrogens and progestagens starting at puberty. High prenatal testosterone levels organize the brain in a male-specific fashion; low levels testosterone permits it to organize in a female-specific fashion. Hormones at puberty activate the circuits laid down in prenatal life but do not fundamentally change them. Thus, the range of sexual behaviors that adult animals can show is determined in large part by their prenatal/perinatal hormone exposure—manipulating these hormone levels can lead to atypical sex behavior or preference for same-sex sex partners as well as a range of other gender-atypical characteristics.[81]

Physiological differences in gay men and lesbians

Recent studies have found notable differences between the physiology of gay people and non-gay people. There is evidence that:

* The average size of the INAH-3 in the brains of gay men is approximately the same size as INAH 3 in women, which is significantly smaller, and the cells more densely packed, than in heterosexual men's brains.[81]
* The suprachiasmatic nucleus was found by Swaab and Hopffman to be larger in gay men than in non-gay men [82], the suprachiasmatic nucleus is also known to be larger in men than in women [83].
* The anterior commissure is larger in women than men, and larger in gay men than in non-gay men.[84]
* Gay men have, on an average, slightly longer and thicker penises than non-gay men.[85]
* Gay men's brains respond differently to fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.[86]
* The functioning of the inner ear and the central auditory system in lesbians and bisexual women are more like the functional properties found in men than in non-gay women (the researchers argued this finding was consistent with the prenatal hormonal theory of sexual orientation).[87]
* The startle response (eyeblink following a loud sound) is similarly masculinized in lesbians and bisexual women.[88]
* Three regions of the brain (medial prefrontal cortex, left hippocampus, and right amygdala) are more active in gay men than non-gay men when exposed to sexually arousing material.[89]
* Gay and non-gay people emit different armpit odors.[90]
* Gay and non-gay people's brains respond differently to two human sex pheromones (AND, found in male armpit secretions, and EST, found in female urine).[91][92][93]
* Finger length ratios between the index and ring fingers may be different between non-gay and lesbian women.[94][95][87][96][97][98]

Cognitive differences in gay men and lesbians

Likewise, recent studies have found notable differences between the cognitive features of gay people and non-gay people. There is evidence that:

* Gay men and lesbians are significantly more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous than non-gay men and women;[99][100][101] Simon LeVay argues that because "[h]and preference is observable before birth[102]... [t]he observation of increased non-right-handness in gay people is therefore consistent with the idea that sexual orientation is influenced by prenatal processes."[81]
* Gay men and lesbians are more verbally fluent than heterosexuals of the same gender[103][104] (but two studies did not find this result[105][106]).
* Gay men are better than non-gay men at object location memory (no difference was found between lesbians and non-gay women).[107]

Fraternal birth order

Main article: Fraternal birth order and sexual orientation

There is evidence from numerous studies that gay men tend to have more older brothers than do non-gay men.[108] One reported that each older brother increases the odds of being gay by 33%. [109] Peter Bearman found no association between sexual orientation and number of older brothers, and questions the data sampling methods of researchers who find a correlation.[110]

To explain this finding, it has been proposed that male fetuses provoke a maternal immune reaction that becomes stronger with each successive male fetus.[108] Male fetuses produce H-Y antigens which are "almost certainly" involved in the sexual differentiation of vertebrates.[108] It is this antigen which maternal H-Y antibodies are proposed to both react to and 'remember.' Successive male fetuses are then attacked by H-Y antibodies which somehow decrease the ability of H-Y antigens to perform their usual function in brain masculinization. This is now known as the fraternal birth order effect. There is a link to homosexuality only if the older brothers were biologically related and even when they were not raised together.[citation needed] Interestingly, this relation seems to hold only for right-handed males.[111] There has been no observed equivalent for women.

Non-biological explanations


Researchers have found that Childhood Gender Nonconformity to be the largest predictor of homosexuality in adulthood.[112] Daryl Bem's Exotic Becomes Erotic theory theorizes that some children will prefer activities that are typical of the other sex and that this will make a gender-conforming child feel different from opposite-sex children, while gender-nonconforming children will feel different from children of their own sex, which may evoke physiological arousal when the child is near members of the sex which it considers as being "different", which will later be transformed into sexual arousal. Researchers have suggested that this nonconformity may be a result of genetics, prenatal hormones, personality, parental care or other environmental factors. Peter Bearman showed that males with a female twin and are twice as likely to report same-sex attractions. He theorizes that parents of opposite-sex twins are more likely to give them unisex treatment, leading to less masculine influence on the males. Having an older brother decreases the rate of homosexuality. Bearman explains that an older brother establishes gendersocializing mechanisms for the younger brother to follow, which allows him to compensate for unisex treatment.[110]

From their research on 275 men in the Taiwanese military, Shu and Lung concluded that "paternal protection and maternal care were determined to be the main vulnerability factors in the development of homosexual males." Key factors in the development of homosexuals were "paternal attachment, introversion, and neurotic characteristics."[113] Other researchers have also provided evidence that gay men report having had less loving and more rejecting fathers, and closer relationships with their mothers, than non-gay men.[114] Whether this phenomenon is a cause of homosexuality, or whether parents behave this way in response to gender-variant traits in a child, is unclear.[115][116]

Innate bisexuality

Main article: Innate bisexuality
Further information: Kinsey Reports, Latent homosexuality

Innate bisexuality (or predisposition to bisexuality) is a term introduced by Sigmund Freud (based on work by his associate Wilhelm Fliess) that expounds that all humans are born bisexual but through psychological development (which includes both external and internal factors) become monosexual, while the bisexuality remains in a latent state.

Alfred Kinsey's studies, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male[31] and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female[117], found that the majority of humans have had homosexual experiences or sensations and are bisexual. The Kinsey Reports found that approximately four percent of adult Americans were predominantly gay or lesbian for their entire lives, and approximately 10 percent were predominantly gay or lesbian for some portion of their lives.[118]

Some studies have disputed Kinsey's methodology and have suggested that these reports overstated the occurrence of bisexuality and homosexuality in human populations. "His figures were undermined when it was revealed that he had disproportionately interviewed homosexuals and prisoners (many sex offenders)."[119][120]

Pathological model of homosexuality

Further information: Homosexuality and psychology, Conversion therapy

Wikinews has related news:
Dr. Joseph Merlino on sexuality, insanity, Freud, fetishes and apathy

Homosexuality is no longer regarded as a mental illness by the scientific community. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a disorder from the Sexual Deviancy section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-II.[121] The World Health Organization's ICD-9 (1977) listed homosexuality as a mental illness, and in 1990, a resolution was adopted to remove it in the ICD-10 (1993).[122] The ICD-10 added ego-dystonic sexual orientation to the list, which refers to people who want to change their gender identities or sexual orientation because of a psychological or behavioral disorder (F66.1). Groups who believe in conversion therapy do not accept the mainstream medical position.

Malleability of homosexuality

In 1985, Fritz Klein argued that sexual orientation may change over time and is composed of various elements, both sexual and non-sexual.[123] A psychologist from the University of Utah measured changes in sexual attractions among white, highly educated lesbians and bisexual women over a two-year period and found that changes in sexual attraction were generally small (more so in lesbians), but that their self-identification of their sexualities and their sexual behavior were more variable.[124]

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that homosexuality "is not changeable", and that attempts at eliminating same-sex attractions are not effective and are potentially harmful.[74] More generally, the APA states, "psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed",[74] and in 2001 United States Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report maintaining that "there is no valid scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed".[125]

Homosexual behavior in animals

Further information: Homosexuality in animals, List of animals displaying homosexual behavior

Homosexual sexual behavior occurs in the animal kingdom, especially in social species, particularly in marine birds and mammals, monkeys, and the great apes. Homosexual behavior has been observed among 1,500 species, and in 500 of those it is well documented.[126] [4]. This discovery constitutes a major argument against those calling into question the biological legitimacy or naturalness of homosexuality, or those regarding it as a meditated social decision. For example, male penguin couples have been documented to mate for life, build nests together, and to use a stone as a surrogate egg in nesting and brooding. In a well-publicized story from 2004, the Central Park Zoo in the United States replaced one male couple's stone with a fertile egg, which the couple then raised as their own offspring.[127]

The genetic basis of animal homosexuality has been studied in the fly Drosophila melanogaster.[128] Here, multiple genes have been identified that can cause homosexual courtship and mating.[78] These genes are thought to control behavior through pheromones as well as altering the structure of the animal's brains.[129][130] These studies have also investigated the influence of environment on the likelihood of flies displaying homosexual behavior.[131][132]

Georgetown University professor Janet Mann has specifically theorized that homosexual behavior, at least in dolphins, is an evolutionary advantage that minimizes intraspecies aggression, especially among males.[133] Studies indicating prenatal homosexuality in certain animal species have had social and political implications surrounding the gay rights debate.[134]
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