Sociologic View on Homosexuality

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Sociologic View on Homosexuality


· The World Health Organization (WHO) has deleted the word “homosexuality” from the list of diagnoses and gave an opportunity to homosexuality to be considered a normal event. Until that, homosexuality was considered a disease, and then after that became a variant of the norm.

· Since ancient times, the phenomenon of homosexuality took place in human life. When scientists became interested in the nature of human sexuality, the attitude toward homosexuals began to gradually change. The general attitude to the homosexuality of modern society is in a process of formation.

· Public attitudes toward homosexuality are extremely in different cultures. Many countries have adopted same-sex relationships between the partners. In 2010 in 76 countries, criminalization of homosexual acts is maintained.

· The researchers note different, often incompatible with one another types of clusters, prompting to talk is not about sexuality, but about various sexual cultures. Accordingly, the concept of sexual norms and sexual health is complicated and enriched. Attitude toward homosexuality changes from pathology to normal.

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From the earliest times, the problem of homosexuality is in the focus of the attention of researchers. It has an integrated, cross-sectoral nature. Sociologists’ interest in the problem of homosexuality continues to grow which is evidenced by the emergence of a large number of publications. The process of humanization of society largely determines the new direction of social attitude to the so-called sexual minorities. Today, optimum conditions for successful social development, adaptation, and integration of the individual is a priority in all developed countries. The obvious problem of stigmatization which is expressed in different forms and manifestations always means oppression and discrimination. It is known that the disorder, instability of human existence, segregation, and stigmatization are inevitably accompanied by marginality, pathology, the destruction of spiritual values of civilization. Such a situation makes intergroup relations more complicated and affects the psyche and consciousness of existing minorities, creating low self-esteem, neuroses, and a number of other features. The legal and political power of the country, social, cultural and religious opinions of the masses may not be able to accept certain forms of behavior, including homosexuality. In the present paper, an analysis of the social context of homosexuality in modern society is promoted.

The Ways in Which Homosexuality Is Historically Constructed

The history of homosexuality dates back to antiquity. Homosexuality was known among the Neanderthals. This is evidenced by unambiguous rock carvings which have been founded by archeologists. Since ancient times, the phenomenon of homosexuality took place in human life. However, at the same time, it did not play a role in relation to procreation. Historically, with the development of individual nations and civilization as a whole, certain forms of gender relations based on moral principles, culture, and religion have been developed by the human. Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and a number of other large and advanced civilizations of the past had undeniable and recognized same-sex relationships in their culture (Homosexuality historical reference). These relationships were based on decentralized religions, primary on polytheism.

Subsequently, Christianity and Islam occupied a dominant role in the religious consciousness of the vast majority of people. With the advent of such large centralized religions, same-sex relationships moved into the background and no longer were manifested as an element of the mass culture of the people (Homosexuality historical reference).

The special church laws governing sexuality were introduced to combat the sin. Sex, which does not lead to conception, was named the unnatural act. By the XIV century, almost all European countries have obeyed the requirements of theologist and recognized homosexuality as a crime. However, historical documents state that homosexuality as a phenomenon did not disappear. Same-sex relations, rejected by the church moved into a phase of secret existence and latent phase, appearing only in places with a high concentration of the same sex people (male and female monasteries, prisons overseas colonies, and so on.) culture (Homosexuality historical reference).

When scientists became interested in the nature of human sexuality, the attitude toward homosexuals began to gradually change. In the XIX century, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs decided to prove that homosexuality is not a vice and the singularity of the psyche. Karl Ulrichs was the first who described a homosexual man, and coined the term “sexual orientation.” He suggested that it is congenital and unchanging, and therefore, natural attributes the human person. (Homosexuality historical reference).

In varying degrees, homosexuality continued to exist in a sufficiently latent form until the early twentieth century. In the twentieth century, a new “discovery” of homosexuality began. The division of the world, large military upheavals and changing the worldview of the overwhelming majority of the population in developed countries has contributed to the clearest manifestation of it. Striking examples of this were the First World War, the October Revolution, the Third Reich and the post-war period in Europe and America culture (Homosexuality historical reference).

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The general attitude toward homosexuality and homosexuals in modern society is ambiguous, changeable. Currently, it is in the process of formation. Social reactions of representatives of the heterosexual majority against sexual minorities vary due to various reasons, ranging from discrimination and insulation to complete indifference.

General trends of the past 30 years:

1. The increase in tolerance for same-sex love, especially among younger (18-24 years) and more educated people;

2. Increasing the number of people, who admit that they have experienced sexual attraction to people of the same sex, that most often occurs in adolescence,

3. However, it is not accompanied by an increase in the number of homosexual contacts, nor with the number of people who consider themselves homosexual or bisexual. There is virtually not increasing the number or proportion of homosexuals. (West).

The Ways Homosexuality Is Taken for Granted as Natural

Although, today it is believed that postnatal events (i.e., occurring after birth) play the main role in the emergence of homosexuality the possibility that it is the prenatal pre-programmed feature of the character is not denied. The general opinion on the causes of homo- or heterosexuality does not exist. When discussing some of the most well-known hypotheses, it is almost always stipulated that the available data are insufficient and need further verification. Also, it can not be excluded that some of the possible causes of homosexuality really underlie in this deviation for a certain percentage of individuals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has deleted the word “homosexuality” from the list of diagnoses and gave an opportunity for homosexuality to be considered a normal event. WHO followed the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which removed homosexuality from its “Handbook of Diagnostic and Statistical» (DSM), that is, from the list of psychological disorders” (West).

In order to understand the actions of the APA, it is necessary to go back to the political situation 60-70s. Then, within the sexual revolution, the traditional values and beliefs were put under questioning. It was a time of rebellion against any authority. Young people did not want to believe “specialists and experts” (West). Mostly feelings, subjective experiences, and personal emotions were taken into account. “You are what you feel” was the main slogan as well as “if you do not give release to your feelings, you betray yourself and will get sick.” In this atmosphere, a group of American homosexuals launched a political campaign for the recognition of homosexuality as a normal alternative lifestyle. “I am gay and happy with it” was the main slogan. In fact, they managed to win the committee involved in the revision of the “Diagnostic and Statistical handbook” by APA. In a brief hearing that preceded the decision, the orthodox-minded psychiatrists were accused of “Freudian bias”. APA voted in favor of the recognition of homosexuality as a normal event.

Psychoanalysis emerged in Western culture on secular grounds and is based on the Judeo-Christian notion of “normal” and “abnormal” behavior. In some way, psychoanalysts would like to be free from the concept of “morality”. However, they classified morally unacceptable and socially undesirable behaviors such as homosexuality as “disease” or “moral defects”. During the sexual and cultural revolution of the 60s certain politically active groups loudly declared that homosexuality is no longer undesirable, but rather an appropriate form of behavior and that not a single person has been “sick”, but rather a society should be considered “sick”. Then, in relation to all these events, the psychoanalytic concept of “disease” has become uncertain.

Until the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases, homosexuality was considered a disease, and then after that became a variant of the norm. It was not made due to political, religious, or social preferences, but totally due to scientific approach and knowledge. This decision had respect to the main gay rights. If considering homosexuality a congenital disease that can not be cured in any way, then to pursue the sick people and discriminate them on this grounds, and even more – to punish them is unfair and mean. Today, for example, no one discriminates disabled people. On the contrary, everyone is trying to make their lives easier and ensure a full existence. In other words, political motive did not exist in the decision of the WHO. However, the problems still remain; they just became not medical but social.

The normalization of homosexuality as an aspect of the democratic process, not only has a beneficial effect on the social position of sexual minorities, but also on society as a whole. Depathologization of same-sex love is a natural consequence of a long process of restructuring of medical thinking, departing from the hard normativism and understanding of sexuality and reproduction. Thus, the normalization of homosexuality means

a) the decriminalization;

b) depathologization;

c) the recognition of ordinary civil rights for the bearers, including protection from discrimination and defamation, the right to marriage, etc. (Murray 67).

Different Society’sAttitude toward Homosexuality in Various Societies

Public attitudes to homosexuality are extremely diverse in different cultures and different historical periods, as well it can be related to sexual desire, activity, and relationships in general. All cultures have their own sexual norms: some approve same-sex love and sexuality, the others do not approve this sexual activity (Murray 67). Different rules and prohibitions against homosexual behavior can be given to people based on their sex, age, social status and / or class. For example, in the pre-modern period, among the samurai in Japan, it was encouraged to engage teen boys in erotic relations with mature warriors (syudo), but these sexual relations were considered inappropriate when the boys reached age men (Watanabe and Iwata 45)

In many cultures around the world reproductive sex is considered to be as a recognized sexual relationship: sometimes – only permissible, sometimes – in conjunction with same-sex love, whether passionate, intimate or sexual relationship. Some religions traditionally condemn homosexual acts and relationships, in some cases, implementing strict punishment of offenders (Crompton 89). Since the 1970s, many countries have become more tolerant and accepted same-sex relationships between the partners, who have reached the age of consent. At the same time, in 2010 in 76 countries, criminalization of homosexual acts is maintained. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, for example, the relationship is punishable to death (Watanabe and Iwata 55).

A public attitude toward homosexuality historically has varied widely in different cultures and at different times. Currently, there are also different trends in different cultures and regions of the earth. In 2007, the Pew Research Center conducted a global survey of attitudes toward homosexuality in various parts of the world and countries and found out that people in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to the social acceptance of homosexuality. However, the level of acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality is very high in Western and Northern Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico are also gay-recognition of the majority (Pew Research Center).

The next similar global study was conducted in 2013. It showed the same trend and led to the conclusion that the attitude towards homosexuality does not change significantly in the countries in recent years, with the exception of South Korea, the United States, and Canada, where the number of views that homosexuality should be accepted by the public increased by 21 %, 11%, and 10% respectively in comparison with the responses in 2007 (“The Global Divide on Homosexuality”).

The study also found that acceptance of homosexuality is particularly prevalent in countries where religion is less important in people’s lives. These countries are the most prosperous and economically developed. In poorer countries with high levels of religiosity, fewer people believe that homosexuality should be accepted by society. However, there are exceptions. For example, China’s religious population is small; however, homosexuality is not accepted by the majority. In contrast, the population of Brazil and the Philippines is greatly tolerant of homosexuality, despite the relatively high level of religiosity (“The Global Divide on Homosexuality”).

In many countries, the attitude toward homosexuality varies in different age groups: younger respondents more often accept homosexuality than older ones. In most surveyed countries, attitudes toward homosexuality of men and women did not differ significantly. However, in countries where gender differences are present, women are much more tolerant of homosexuality than men (“The Global Divide on Homosexuality”).

Sociological Explanation How Homosexuality Has Developed

Only relatively recently the public consciousness accepted the fact that sexuality itself is not aimed at procreation, needs no justification and is self-sufficient. At the end of the twentieth century, motivational separation of sexuality and reproduction has acquired the material base. On the one hand, effective contraception allows people to have sex without fear of unwanted at the moment of pregnancy. On the other hand, artificial insemination and genetic engineering can produce offspring with hereditary pre-programmed data without any kind of sexual intercourse or even without personal contact of the parents.

Sexual scripts of modern humans are not the same. The researchers note different, often incompatible with one another types of clusters, prompting to talk is not about sexuality, but about various sexual cultures. Accordingly, the concept of sexual norms and sexual health is complicated and enriched. Attitude toward homosexuality changes from pathology to normal. Thus, homosexuality was formed in modern society in accordance with the above-mentioned. Now, it is treated as a sexual deviation characterized by an attraction to persons of the same sex. Since the middle of the last century, the term “homosexuality” is used to indicate sexual activity and relations (not just sexual attraction) between persons of the same sex. Homosexuality is observed among both men and women.

However, the nature of homosexual attraction is still not fully established by science. Mentally the homosexuals tend to be quite normal people. All communications in a homosexual couple (interpersonal, emotional, and sexual) are similar to those in heterosexual. Therefore, as was noted above, in recent years, international classifications of homosexuality removed from it the list of diseases.

Summarizing the aforesaid, one can identify some regularity. One can assume that the phenomenon of homosexuality has not arisen in one place or in one civilization, and then spread around the world. Currently, most scientists agree on the second point of view that precedents arose at different times and in different places, independently of each other. The practice of homosexuality existed in ancient civilizations. Attitude to the problem was changing, the characters changed, but the phenomenon of homosexuality reached modern society and consequences and still is a matter of controversy.

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Homosexuality as a social reality has passed a long way. It has been known since ancient times, in almost all countries. In a number of them, in some historical periods, such kind of communication was encouraged. Repressive attitude towards homosexuality began to develop with the transition to Christianity. Partially, the necessity of such an attitude was justified by the need to increase the birth rate. The medieval states make laws punishing homosexuality. The homosexuals were persecuted by the church and the Inquisition. Legal attitude towards the legalization of homosexuality in modern society as a whole repeats similar social attitudes: the basis of legal acts is based on the principles of prohibitions instead of tolerance and humanism.

After World War II, the formation of public opinion and the law was significantly influenced by the work of American researchers. In particular, the first time it has been scientifically proven that homosexuality is not a disease, not a perversion, but different sexual orientation. In several countries of America and Europe, the process of legalization of homosexuality has begun. In some countries, marriage between homosexuals, which is governed by the same civil acts as a heterosexual one has been officially permitted.

Rapidly, the process of equating of cohabitation to legal marriage and the legalization of same-sex marriage is developing. A number of same-sex couples living together and having a common household are growing rapidly. The official registration of relations gives the partners a significant advantage in terms of social security, inheritance, etc. Many same-sex couples have children from previous marriages. Hence, the changes in the legislation occur. Changes in the recognition of same-sex couples to adopt children were outlined. In most countries, it is forbidden by law.


Sexual orientation and gender identity are the elements of personal identification, which are located at the deep, structural level. Errors, inaccuracies, or biases in the materials about the homo-, bisexual people, same-sex marriages, and parenting may insult them and their families, friends, and colleagues. People should understand that homosexuality is a morally neutral human characteristic. A man does not become good or bad just because he is gay or lesbian. It is a matter of personal ethics, civility, and tolerance. In a situation of total violation of human rights, a social attitude has a significant share of responsibility for the spread of myths and stereotypes, designing demonized images of homosexual people in each person’s consciousness.

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