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Acadamics say polls underestimate both the size of gay population and anti-gay sentiment

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  1. Karen Blair 31 Oct 2013, 4:03pm

    We’re currently raising funds for a study that will use similar means of testing implicit attitudes towards same-sex couples, in particular, same-sex public displays of affection. We hope to understand more about the physiology of prejudice as a means for reducing prejudice and hate crimes. To learn more, please visit

    1. That sounds interesting. Out of curiosity (although it’s obviously a bit different) do you have an opinion on Project Implicit tests and the science behind them?

  2. This is certainly not a new concept, the benefits of veiled research have been discussed for decades and when it comes to sexuality no research should be accepted unless it is entirely anonymous.
    There have been numerous sexuality studies conducted in the US that are completely meaningless, but are still used as examples in debates and education.

    For instance, a scientific study into same-sex practices in the US prison system is still used today, despite it being incredibly flawed from start to finish and basically entirely worthless. Interviews were conducted about the inmates sexual experiences, with no anonymity at all, and some specific sexual acts were completely ignored. In a prison system where heterosexual men share cells, they completely ignored male masturbation as a sexual act.

    These results are used to this day in sexual and psychological research, and they are not worth the paper they are written on.

  3. Christopher Coleman 31 Oct 2013, 5:19pm

    Anti-gay sentiment is understandable at the present time, when gay rights are in the news and many religious and political leaders make anti-gay remarks in public. It will take time for acceptance of LGBT people to become a common feature of society. Already one finds so many young heterosexuals who are totally comfortable with gay people.

    The size of the LGBT population will always be an issue. Sexuality can only be measured on a sliding scale and there will always be that part of the scale that falls between being gay and being bisexual, and between being bisexual and heterosexual. Also, many individuals who admit to having had one or more homosexual experiences are heterosexuals who recognize an attraction to one or more of their friends. I do not think their numbers can be used to increase the gay population legitimately. Around five percent is probably right.

    1. Spot on, especially your reference to bisexual behaviour which I believe is more prevalent than is generally acknowledged.

      1. BlokeToys 1 Nov 2013, 1:16pm

        Absolutely correct.
        One of the biggest issues in sexuality study is the concept of fetishization of certain acts or physical attributes. For example, someone may be entirely heterosexual in every other aspect of life from who they love to who they have actual sexual contact with, but at the same time enjoy same-sex activities which would be described as “vanilla” because of a fetishistic appeal.

        Lazy people may describe them as “bisexual”, but where is the line here? Is a person bisexual for simply thinking about a same sex act? Does there need to be physical contact?

        This is all a grey area, but all the evidence seems to suggest that there is a majority out there who have “curiosity” when it comes to certain aspects of same-sex activity. They may be mild activities, but it’s still sexual thought and activity that is often completely ignored in sexual research.

  4. @MileHighJoe1 31 Oct 2013, 5:43pm

    Perhaps I’m an idiot, but I don’t understand their method for detecting people’s true sentiments. I’m not convinced, but I’m very open to having it explained to me why it is a method in which I should rely.

    1. BlokeToys 1 Nov 2013, 1:19pm

      That’s the point.
      Much of this “research” is conducted through survey data, interviews and non-anonymous questioning. Therefore there will always be a warping of genuine opinion to satisfy social constraints. Someone living in a community of religious fanatics might personally believe that LGBT rights are important, but their surroundings force them to conform to popular local opinion.

      This makes almost all of the research completely worthless.

  5. Fascinating that the number who think gay people can change their orientation *drops* when veiled. In conjunction with the more homophobic veiled responses, it seems to contradict the idea that homophobes would be more accepting of gay people if they realised it wasn’t a choice. From an intellectual point of view, it’s surprising that people would be more prepared to discriminate against someone knowing full well they can’t change how they are. Although I suppose that’s what these people were already thinking, but asked directly they were too afraid to imply it.

  6. I’m glad this report has been published even though it seems to be stating the obvious. There has to be complete anonymity in any survey relating to sexuality. Otherwise the results are going to be meaningless.
    Imagine being in a household in somewhere like Northern Ireland and being part of the family group that is responding to an Office of National Statistics survey?

    1. BlokeToys 1 Nov 2013, 1:25pm

      It might be stating the obvious to us, but there are hundreds of thousands of universities, companies, governments, public bodies, prison systems, psychology organizations and more who STILL use outdated and flawed research. They use it because it’s all they have, or they just trust that it’s the most accurate representation.

      If psychology students are still being fed this bullsh*t by professors who simply trust that it’s valid (in actual fact, there is so little research in this field that they really have no choice but to use these completely worthless research data) then it damages another generation of people who really should be furnished with a more accurate representation of sexuality in society.

      It’s a sad mess, and it’s echoed in other fields too.

  7. It is to be expected both that there should be greater denial of homosexual experience In a still homophobic culture and, paradoxically, of homophobic attitudes in a climate of declining respectability of such bigotry if these questions are not put anonymously.
    There seems to be a strong parallel here with racism. Open avowal of racist belief is now heavily stigmatized but a recent undercover investigation revealed startlingly racist behavior. Journalists posing as landlords placing their property with renting agencies explicitly, and quite illegally, told the agencies that they didn’t want any black clients and a number of the agencies agreed to this without turning a hair. Sorry, I don’t remember details – perhaps another PN reader does.
    In a way it is a positive thing – people will lie more about their real attitudes and actions as prejudice actually declines and loses respectability and they are more likely to be shamed for open bigotry.

  8. Colin (London) 4 Nov 2013, 7:02pm

    The UN has published that it thinks 6% of the worlds population are gay.

    I think as time goes by more people will be willing to identify as gay, bi etc. I have an uncle who is gay (his words) He married had kids and led a hetrosexual life. People like him will not have to do this going forward. It will take time but more good research will help.

    25 years ago when I come out to my family they struggled very much with me. I am very “straight” Today even my Parents are relaxed and they talk to their two gay grandkids openly about their lives. It took time, painful conversations but mainly my family today are very supportive.

    And we are from a catholic background although most of us have given it up. I respect its important to my Parents however.

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