Why shouldn't homosexuality be illegal?

The equality of homosexuals applies inter alia. as a meaningful indicator for the implementation of and compliance with general human rights in a state / society. The differences between individual states or regions are considerable. Even if the trend is towards greater acceptance, there are still major differences between the general attitude of tolerance and personal feelings. An overview of the 'status of the topic'.

By Carsten Frerk.

1. Preliminary remark
2. How many people see themselves as LGBT?
3. Acceptance of homosexuality worldwide
4. Same-sex marriages in the US
5. Germany
6. Western and Eastern Europe
7. Poland
8. Catholics in Western and Eastern Europe

1. Preliminary remark

On the subject of homosexuality there are, inter alia. two different approaches. On the one hand, there is a sexual science approach, in the interest of which the question of the sexual self-image and actual sex life of the respondents in various degrees and mixed forms is central. On the other hand, in the social science approach, it is about the findings of what the respondents think about homosexuals and evaluate them. Simplifying terms, “homosexuality” or “homosexuals” is used here, i. H. about obscure constructs of a dichotomous worldview that divides reality into mutually exclusive concepts of man / woman, heterosexual / homosexual or, in general, of good / bad. The decisive factor here is the personal opinion, which is derived from the (primarily religiously based) upbringing, what has been read or heard - which then represents the prevailing opinion and evaluation of homosexuality in a society.

2. How many people see themselves as LGBT?

Since sexual preferences are not among the officially recorded 'civil status characteristics', there is only data from empirical surveys on how many people see themselves as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender).

The “Sexual identity, UK: 2018” survey by the “Office of National Statistics” names around 2 percent of the population as LGBT, with the proportion increasing slightly from 1.6 to 2.2 percent from 2014 to 2018, which points out, among other things, that the number of bisexuals in Great Britain, especially among the younger ones, has increased significantly.

The YouGov study "1 in 2 young people say they are not 100% heterosexual" (2015) names 46 percent of British 18-24 year olds who also have same-sex partners.

A Europe-wide Dalia study: "Counting the LGBT population: 6% of Europeans identify as LGBT" (from 2016) comes to the conclusion that around 6 percent of Europeans describe themselves as LGBT. The range is from 7.4 percent (in Germany) to 1.5 percent (in Hungary).

In the USA, according to the results of the study: "Changes in American Adults' Reported Same-Sex Sexual Experiences and Attitudes, 1973-2014", the proportion of same-sex sex partners among women in the period 1972-2014 was 3.6 8.7 percent increased, for men from 4.5 to 8.2 percent.

These results are based on the use of the Kinsey scale.

“The scale ranges from 0 to 6, where 0 stands for exclusively heterosexual and 6 for exclusively homosexual. In between there are various forms of bisexual experiences, with 3 denoting equal proportions of heterosexual and homosexual experiences. In addition to the scale, there is also a category X for individuals who have no sexual contact and who do not show any obvious sexual reactions in a social context. "

So when homosexuality is spoken of in the following, it is in this respect a focus on a smaller subgroup, although it has become clear that the topic must be viewed more broadly. The dichotomization of either heterosexual or homosexual then corresponds to a simplified corset of norms, whereby the evaluation of homosexuality can then be viewed as a yardstick for the acceptance of human rights and human dignity.

3. Acceptance of homosexuality worldwide

In 2014, Gallup asked about the acceptance of homosexuality in 124 countries around the world: “European Countries Among Top Places for Gay People to Live”. The question was, "Is the city or area you live in a good place or not a good place for gay and lesbian people to live?"

The answers have a range of over 86 percentage points, so the Gallup authors write:

“[…] The 71% of Americans in 2014 who said their communities are good places for gays and lesbians aren't among the highest percentages in the world, but they're also nowhere near the lowest. In 124 countries, this hospitable attitude ranges from 87% in Spain and the Netherlands to 1% in Senegal. On average, around one in three adults (34%) say their city or area is a good place to live for gays and lesbians. That ranking includes no more than two dozen countries where the question was not asked, including China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia and a number of other nations in the Middle East and Central Asia. "

In other words, the average of 34 percent is too friendly since many of the homophobic societies are missing from this calculation.

Gallup asked the same question in its 2013 Global Survey: “Nearly 3 in 10 Worldwide See Their Areas as Good for Gays”. The results correspond to the data from 2014:

“Almost three in ten adults (28%) in 123 countries say their city or area is a 'good place' for gays and lesbians in 2013, but hospitality ranges from 83% in the Netherlands to 1% in Pakistan and Senegal. "

The data for all countries were also published for this survey. Germany ranks 19th out of 123 countries. 62 percent of those surveyed believe that Germany is a good place for homosexuals to live there, 24 percent say it is not a good place and 14 percent are undecided.

The study “The Global Divide on Homosexuality Persists” (2019) by the US PEW Research Center shows the development of attitudes towards homosexuality from 2002 to 2019 in various countries around the world States have improved.

Jacob Poushter and Nicholas Kent from the PEW Research Center write about the results of the extensive study:

“Despite significant changes in laws and norms related to same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBT people around the world, public opinion about the acceptance of homosexuality in society remains strong by country, region and economic development split. [...]
In many of the countries studied, there are also differences in the acceptance of homosexuality according to age, education, income and in some cases also according to gender - and in some cases these differences are significant. In addition, religion and its importance in people's lives shape opinions in many countries. For example, in some countries those who belong to a religious group tend to be less likely to accept homosexuality than those who do not belong to any religious group (a group sometimes referred to as religious "non-religious"). "

And in addition to many other aspects that are recorded and presented in the study, there is the socio-economic development status of a country - which also includes, among other things. is related to the 'modernity' of a society, d. H. better education and employment of women - in connection with the acceptance of homosexuality:

“Attitudes towards this topic are strongly correlated with the wealth of a country. In general, people in wealthier and more developed economies are more likely to accept homosexuality than people in less wealthy and developed economies. "


4. Same-sex marriages in the US

In 2020, Gallup published a time series 1996-2019 in which the acceptance and legality of same-sex marriages were regularly asked: “U.S. Support for Gay Marriage Stable, at 63% ". Since 1996, when only a quarter of Americans (27 percent) were in favor of the legality of same-sex marriages, consent to acceptance has grown steadily, and in 2019 stands at nearly two-thirds (63 percent).

These GALLUP results are also confirmed by the 2019 PEW study, which looks at the general acceptance of homosexuality in the US, as shown in surveys from 1994 to 2019.

While there was still a slight majority against acceptance by the end of the 20th century, the trend since 2004 has been clear and steady in favor of overwhelming acceptance of homosexuality in the USA, which almost three quarters of respondents (72 percent) agree with in 2019.

It can be assumed that this increasing acceptance will continue, since it is especially the younger age groups who have above-average acceptance shares. While there is only a slight majority among 55-year-olds and older (51 percent), it is four-fifths (81 percent) among 18-34 year-olds

In this regard, it is noteworthy that there is a clear difference between their own view of same-sex marriage (Gallup 2019: 63 percent in favor) and the opinion of the respondents whether the majority of Americans are in favor of acceptance. In the Gallup study “Americans Still Unclear on Public Support for Gay Marriage” (June 2020) the question was asked: “What is your impression of how most Americans think about same-sex marriage - you think most Americans of them Are same-sex marriage or are you against same-sex marriage? ”Only 48 percent of respondents believe that same-sex marriage is accepted by a majority (63 percent) of the US population. That is again more than in 2012/2013, when only 30 percent of the respondents saw a majority, but the same discrepancy remains that the actual acceptance of same-sex marriage in the USA is higher than it is assumed.

This difference: "If the majority thinks they are the minority", the IfD-Allensbach (2015) also found for Germany, with speculations about the reasons:

"[...] to the question" What do you think, how do most of the people here in Germany think about it? Are most people more for or against a marriage of same-sex couples? ”Here 46 percent answered that they believed that most people were against it, only 20 percent assumed that the majority were for it. And this pattern can also be observed with gradations in all social groups: whether among the boys, the supporters of the Greens or the explicit supporters of same-sex marriage - in all of these groups a - albeit sometimes narrow - relative majority means the opponents of homosexuals -Marriages outnumber them.
Perhaps it is due to the speed of the change of opinion that the representatives of gay marriage have not even noticed that they are now in the majority, so that they are still running against a supposed wall of resistance that actually no longer exists . Perhaps they also need the idea of ​​the supposedly overpowering opposing side in order to maintain the momentum of their own political activities. "

5. Germany

How far it was to acceptance in Germany, too, is shown by the long period of criminal liability for homosexuality.

"Section 175 of the German Criminal Code (Section 175 StGB) existed from January 1, 1872 (when the Reich Criminal Code came into force) until June 11, 1994. It made sexual acts between persons of the male sex a punishable offense. Until 1935 he also banned “unnatural fornication with animals” (from 1935 to 1969 this was punishable under Section 175b). A total of around 140,000 men were convicted according to the various versions of Section 175. On September 1, 1935, the National Socialists tightened Section 175, including by increasing the maximum sentence from six months to five years in prison. In addition, the offense was extended from sexual intercourse to all "lewd" acts. The newly inserted § 175a determined for "difficult cases" between one and ten years imprisonment.
The GDR returned to the old version of § 175 in 1950; Section 175a continued to be applied. From the late 1950s, homosexual acts among adults were no longer punished. In 1968 the GDR enacted a completely new penal code, which, in Section 151, made same-sex sexual acts with young people a punishable offense for both women and men. With effect from July 1, 1989, this paragraph was deleted without replacement. The Federal Republic of Germany adhered to the versions of §§ 175 and 175a from the time of National Socialism for two decades. A first reform took place in 1969 and a second in 1973. Since then, only sexual acts with male adolescents under the age of 18 have been punishable, whereas the age of consent for lesbian and heterosexual acts was 14 years. Only after reunification in 1994 was § 175 repealed without replacement for the territory of the old Federal Republic as well. "

For the time of the 'old' Federal Republic there is a compilation of selected results of opinion research: “Attitudes to homosexuality and same-sex partnerships in the Federal Republic of Germany 1949-2016” by the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag.

In 1949, 53 percent of the married men surveyed in West Germany described homosexuality as a “vice”, 31 percent as a “disease”. In 1976 the opinion of "vice" was only represented by 25 percent of men (and 20 percent of women), but 49 percent of men (and 46 percent of women) described homosexuality (in the options: vice / illness / habit / Natural thing / not specified) as "illness".

But then the attitude changes begin and in 2013 a majority (of 70 percent) is in favor of "expanding spouse splitting to same-sex partnerships". In 2015 the answer to the question: “Should homosexual partnerships be legally equated with marriage in all respects?” 64 percent answered “Yes”.

In 2016, the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency initiated the study “Attitudes towards lesbians, gays and bisexuals in Germany”. “Accordingly, 83 percent of those questioned agree with the statement that marriages between two women or two men should be allowed. Around 95 percent also said it was good that homosexual people were legally protected from discrimination. The head of the anti-discrimination agency said (January 12, 2017):

"‘ Approval for equality in marriage has never been higher - that shows that society is much further ahead than politics, "said the head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, Christine Lüders, on Thursday in Berlin. Lüders called it 'a sad sign' that, unlike in 14 European countries, there is still no 'marriage for all' in Germany. 'The legislature must no longer delay what a majority has long taken for granted. We need an opening of marriage to same-sex couples and full legal equality, including in the case of adoption. ‘Most people rightly perceive special regulations such as the registered civil partnership that is often in force in Germany as 'gay marriage' as a disadvantage."

In June 2017, the German Bundestag voted to open up marriage to same-sex couples.

However, a liberal general opinion does not have to coincide with a visible acceptance. Tolerance towards minorities is increasingly normative today, so that people who have negative attitudes may adapt to these norms and merely act tolerantly. In 2018, Civey asked about attitudes towards publicly visible homosexuality (kissing) and came to the conclusion: "In Germany, homosexuals still have to struggle with prejudices". The public exchange of affection (“kisses”) was disapproved of by 24 percent of respondents for two women, and 43 percent disapproved of two men.


“A total of 48.9 percent of German citizens believe that homosexuals in Germany often have to struggle with prejudice.It is interesting that the proportion of those who are bothered when two men kiss is particularly high among those surveyed who believe that homosexuals hardly encounter any prejudice: 59 percent of those who think that they will become homosexual in Germany 'Rarely' hostile to their sexual orientation, they themselves have a problem with gay couples kissing in public. "

6. Western and Eastern Europe

According to the results of the ESS 2010 (European Social Survey), there is a big difference between the opinions of the population in Eastern and Western Europe.

While a majority of gay men and lesbian women in all countries of Western Europe are in favor of freedom of lifestyle (with a range of 63 to 93 percent), in Southern and Eastern Europe (including Russia) there are only three countries (Czech Republic, Greece and Slovenia). The lowest tolerance exists in Russia (with 25 percent) for freedom of living.

The PEW study: “Eastern and Western Europe divided over gay marriage, homosexuality” (2013) also addresses this question. The author Peter Lipka writes that the gap between Eastern and Western Europe is widening.

“The latest developments in Croatia and Scotland highlight a sharp gap between Eastern and Western Europe on the issue of same-sex marriage. While several nations in Western Europe have legalized marriage for gay and lesbian couples with broad public support, other countries on the continent overwhelmingly oppose such laws. [...]
The divide between continents has led to debate over whether the Netherlands could grant asylum to gay and lesbian Russians trying to escape the country's anti-homosexual 'propaganda' law - a measure that took place last June was passed by 436 votes to 0 in the Russian parliament.
The European Social Study did not ask about same-sex marriages, but in 2010 it did include a question about attitudes towards homosexuals. In several Western European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the UK, more than 80% of respondents agree that 'gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own lives the way they want'. In Croatia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia, on the other hand, less than
40% of this statement. "

These differences in attitudes were confirmed in further surveys (2015-2017). This is emphasized again in a presentation "Eastern and Western Europeans differ in their views on the importance of religion, attitudes towards minorities and their opinions on important social issues":

“The Iron Curtain that once divided Europe may be a thing of the past, but the continent is now divided by great differences in public attitudes towards religion, minorities and social issues such as same-sex marriage and legal abortion. [...]
The survey results suggest that the regional divide in Europe with regard to same-sex marriage may continue in the future: in most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, young adults are only slightly less opposed to recognizing same-sex marriage than older people.
For example, 61% of younger Estonians (18 to 34 years old) are against recognition of same-sex marriage in their country, compared with 75% of those over 35. In this regard, young Estonian adults are six times more likely to reject same-sex marriages than older adults in Denmark (10%). This pattern applies to the entire region; young adults in almost every Central and Eastern European country are much more conservative on this issue than younger and older Western Europeans. "

This relative division of Europe is also supplemented by PEW (2019) with an overview map in which a distinction is made between same-sex marriages / civil partnerships / no legal partnerships.

The organization ILGA EUROPE (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) has developed a so-called 'rainbow map' of Europe, in which various indices are taken into account for 49 countries in Europe, which relate to national legislation and policies against LGBT Rights and in which the gradations become clear again.


7. Poland

For the situation in Poland, the CBOS survey (2017) "Attitude to people of homosexual orientation" reports that since 2005 the number of people who personally know a person with a homosexual orientation has increased from 16 percent (until 2017) to 32 percent have expanded. Especially among the younger ones (18-24 years old) who live in big cities and are well educated.

The CBOS survey (2019) “Attitude towards homosexuality” shows the change from 2001 to 2019. While in 2001 41 percent said that homosexuality should not be normal and should not be tolerated, in 2019 it is 24 percent. Since 2005, on the other hand, a majority (between 52 and 63 percent) has been of the opinion that homosexuality is a deviation from the norm, but should be tolerated.

In 2019, a total of 78 percent of those surveyed see homosexuality as a deviation from the natural norm.

This is the basis for the phenomenon of “LGBT-free zones” (“Out of hatred for equality”), which have been declared in a third of Poland, especially in the southeast.

It is about a “culture war: the enemy is lesbian”, which is mainly supported by the clergy of the Catholic Church. In a report on the attitudes of the clergy in Poland: “Brussels‘ imposing neo-Marxism ’and so-called rule of law’ on Poland, warns archbishop ”, warnings against a neo-Marxist vision of a new order that denies the Kingdom of God:

“Brussels, Berlin and New York are trying to impose 'a neo-Marxist vision of a new order' on Poland, including the 'so-called rule of law' and 'LGBT ideology', warns one of the country's most senior bishops. [...]
It aims to 'replace God with ... material desires,' said the archbishop. Her vision 'proclaims undefined European values ​​and the so-called' constitutional state 'behind which abortion stands as a woman's right'.
She also wants to 'forcefully introduce gender and LGBT ideology into preschools, what is known as' gay marriage' and the adoption of children by [such couples], "Jędraszewski continued.
The Archbishop of Krakow is a vocal figure in the Church, including on issues related to the conservative agenda of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS).
Last year, Jędraszewski, like the government, condemned what it calls 'LGBT ideology'. He described it as a 'rainbow plague' and compared it to Bolshevism and Nazism. "

A campaign against this has been formed: “I support love. In Poland and Europe. "

However, it is inappropriate to equate the attitude of the majority of the Polish clergy with the Catholic Church and the values ​​of its believers.

8. Catholics and homosexuality in Western and Eastern Europe

The PEW study (2020) "How Catholics around the world see same-sex marriage, homosexuality." By Jeff Diamant shows how different the values ​​are among Catholics in Europe and the world

Attitudes towards legal same-sex marriage are a good indicator of the acceptance of same-sex sexuality.

“According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center over the past few years, Catholics around the world have different degrees of support for same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality in general.
In 2017, a large majority of Catholics in Western Europe said they were in favor of legal same-sex marriage. This was the case in the Netherlands (92%), the United Kingdom (78%), France (74%) and Germany (70%).
Same-sex marriage is legal in most of the Western European countries studied. In Switzerland and Italy - which allow civil marriages but not marriage for homosexual couples - 76% and 57% of Catholics, respectively, said they support gay marriage in 2017.
On the other hand, most Catholics in almost all of the Central and Eastern European countries surveyed by the center in 2015 and 2016 oppose same-sex marriage. Nine out of ten Catholics in Ukraine said same-sex marriages should be illegal, as did 66% of Catholics in Hungary and 62% of Catholics in Poland. "

These data with the different attitudes of Catholics also confirm the analysis of the contribution in the Deutsche Welle: “Homosexuality, a Catholic crux.” “The Pope advocates the rights of homosexuals and at the same time continues the discrimination within the Church. Why homosexuality remains a taboo for the Catholic Church. "

(CF)