Homosexuality is defined as the sexual relationship and desire between members of the same gender. Homosexuals, therefore, are the individuals that practice homosexuality. Homosexuals are further defined by there gender. Females are termed Lesbians, while males are most often referred to as Gay Men. Many in our current society consider homosexuality to be sexual orientation, a biological or psychological unchanging orientation that may be inherited or congenital. Others consider it a sexual preference, implying that homosexual behavior is a matter of choice and free will (Fone 2000, p.5).
Regardless of the root causes, homosexuality is “last acceptable prejudice” ( Fone 2000, p. 3). The term “homosexuality” was first utilized in 1868 in correspondence between German journalist Karl M. Kertbeny and German sexologist Karl H. Ulrichs. Homosexuality was used again in 1869 when German sexual theorist Dr. Karl Westphals used the term in an article where he defined homosexuality as ”contrary sexual feeling” (Fone 2000, p. 4). Though the term may be modern in definition, homosexuality has always been present in the history of human sexuality (Fone 2000, p.
5). The true number of homosexuals that exist will never be known. A common quoted percentage is ten percent of males and four percent of females are homosexual (Burnham 1995, p. 10). Homosexuals debate these percentages, believing that this number is too low. Using these figures and a population figure of 300,000,000 for the United States, there are 15,000,000 gay men and 6,000,000 lesbians living in America. The opinions of the root cause of homosexuality are divided between three camps.
There are those who believe it is biological in nature, those who believe it is environmental, and those who believe it is a matter of choice. Scientific studies of homosexual brothers have identified HOMOSEXUALITY Page 2 of 5 genetic markers on the X chromosome that are prevalent among gay men. Other studies have shown that there is a greater prevalence of homosexuality among twins of homosexuals (Kangas 1999, p. 18). Indeed, Psychologists Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard discovered that, when raised together, if one identical twin is a homosexual the chance of the other one being homosexual is fifty-two percent.
This falls to twenty-two percent for fraternal twins and ten percent (the semi-accepted population rate) for non twin siblings (Kangas 1999, p. 19). The biological model for homosexuality is not universally accepted. The general lack of random population samples and lack of control groups are often cited as a flaw in scientific studies. Steve Calverley and Rob Goetze point out that if it was indeed genetic, then the expected occurrence in identical twins when one is gay would be one hundred percent, since all genetics are shared.
Non-identical sblings share 50% of the genes, so therefore the incident rate should be fifty percent, not the reported twenty-two percent. Also, according to Calverley, Pillard and Bailey’s study is flawed because they only researched twins that were raised together (Calverley 1999, p. 25). The reasons for homosexuality are probably the result of a variety of factors. Psychological response due to genetics is not always one hundred percent in complex organisms. Conscious thought processes and environment have a role to play in the development of any behavioral patterns, not just homosexuality.
While the increase in homosexuality in twins certainly cannot be ignored, neither can the environmental evidence that the same statistics provide. If a non-threatening, non-prejudicial environment exists in the home during the child’s developmental years, then any homosexual feelings the child has are less likely to be suppressed, as opposed to total suppression if the environment is the opposite (Lopresto 1999, p. 43-46). HOMOSEXUALITY Page 3 of 5 Homophobia has been defined as an irrational fear or dislike of homosexuality and homosexuals.
Homophobia has been postulated to be rooted in the not uncommon fear of anything that is different. The stereotypes and myths of homosexuality continue to provide fuel for the phobia. Those myths, such as effeminacy in all homosexual males and masculinity in all lesbians can lead to discrimination against those who posses these traits and are not homosexuals (Fone 2000, p. 5). Discrimination occurs in all aspects of our society for all sorts of reasons. The real question is not if it exists but how prevalent and pervasive it is.
Some would argue that homosexuals are oppressed, needing the same federal and state civil rights protections that are afforded to other minority groups. Homosexuality has been stigmatized as abnormal behavior, with the participants being categorized as sub-human (Allen 1999, p. 61). Those who disagree with the need for civil rights protection for homosexuals often state that homosexuals have never been denied their civil rights. For example, no laws were ever enacted forbidding homosexuals to vote, as they were against African-Americans.
No one ever mad homosexuals as a group sit in the back of busses or not allow them into certain public schools (Wright 1999, p. 72). They also tend to think of homosexuality as a deviant disorder. In arguing her case against civil rights protections, Wright took notice that she felt that the American Psychological Association was forced by political pressure, not scientific reasoning, to remove homosexuality as a sexual disorder Wright 1999, p 73). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) firmly supports antidiscrimination legislation for homosexuals.
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law, but yet homosexuals are denied housing and employment. A 1987 Fortune 500 survey HOMOSEXUALITY Page 4 of 5 found that sixty-six percent of executives would hesitate to promote a lesbian or a gay man to a managerial position (ACLU 1999, p. 80). Discrimination against homosexuals does occur. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting System, there were 1,017 reported hate crimes against homosexuals in 2005. This compares with 3,919 crimes due to race and 944 crimes due to ethnicity or national origin.
Hate crimes against homosexuals also have a higher probability of having more than one offender. Out of the 1,017 report crimes, there were 1,138 offenders. By comparison, out of the 3,919 incidents of hate crimes due to race, there were 3,913 offenders. What this shows is that hate crimes against homosexuals have a higher chance of being perpetrated by groups than racial crimes (FBI 2005). Of the many myths that promoted homophobia, the myth that AIDS is a disease of the homosexual community is one of the most damaging.
While there is no doubt that male-to-male sexual contact does indeed have the potential to spread AIDS, it is not the only transmission source. As of 2005, there were 454,106 cases of male-to-male transmitted AIDS infections. There were also 242,006 injected drug abuse caused infections and 164,850 heterosexually spread infections. There were about 70,000 AIDS cases that had some other source of infection. Therefore, out of a total of 930,962 cases, only 48. 7% were linked to homosexual activity (Centers for Disease Control 2005).
One of the major social issues is the acceptance or non-acceptance of homosexuality. Homosexuality has always been present, and not accepting it is not going to change that. Those who are homosexuals can be made to feel out of place, different, and ostracized. Homosexual youth very often have feelings of shame and loathing, perpetuated by a generalized fear of how society will treat them (Kytle 1999, P. 118). Most of the arguments against acceptance are based HOMOSEXUALITY Page 5 of 5 on religious beliefs.
The Ramsey Colloquium, a religious based organization, argues that the acceptance of homosexuality would debase the right of marriage. Their argument is based on a belief that homosexuals are more promiscuous and engage in non-marital sexual activities (Ramsey Colloquium 1999, p. 125). Since the United States Constitution prohibits establishment of a Religion, and therefore by definition a religious doctrine, it is hard to accept a religious argument against granting a group of people the same that others enjoy. It is true that homosexuals participate in non-marital sexual activities.
But they are forbidden to marry. They are denied this basic right that is provided to all other individuals, without exception. Homosexuals and homosexuality still suffers from the stigmatism that has always engulfed it in our society. Until changes, either in society’s belief structure or in the legal arena occurs, there will be pervasive discrimination levied against homosexuals. Intolerance is not condoned nor tolerated against other minorities, but it does continue against homosexuals.
Allen, B. (1999). Homosexuals are an Oppressed Minority.In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 62-69). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. American Civil Liberties Union. (1999). Homosexuals Need Antidiscrimination Laws. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 80-84). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Burnham, V. (1995) Since Time Began. Sante Fe: Sunstone Press. Calverley, S. & Goetze, R. (1999). A Biological Bassis for Homosexuality has not been Determined. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 23-26). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). AIDS Exposure. Retrieved April 7, 2007,
from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Web Site: http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/topivcs/surveillance/basic. htm#exposure Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2005). Sexual Orientation Bias. Retrieved April 7, 2007 from The United States Department of Justice. Web site: http://www. fbi. gov/ucr/hc2005/table1. htm Fone, Fone, B. (2000). Homophobia: A History. New York: Metropolitan Books. Kangas, S. (1999). Homosexuality is Biologically Determined. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 17-21). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Kytle, R.. (1999).
Society Should Encourage Increased Acceptance of Homosexuality In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 118-120). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Lopresto, C. (1999). A Variety of Factors May CauseHomosexuality. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 43-46). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. The Ramsey Colloquium. (1999). Society Should Not Encourage Increased Acceptance of Homosexuality. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 122-125). San Diego: Greenhaven Press. Wright, E. (1999). Homosexuals are not an Oppressed Minority. In M. Williams, Homosexuality. (pp. 71-78). San Diego: Greenhaven Press.