Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Global Map Of Where It's Good & Bad To Be Gay

I was interested to stumble upon this page which speaks of a global map of homophobia. Unsurprisingly the two big findings were that sub-Saharan African and Muslim-majority countries are the least accepting of homosexuals, and Western and Latin American countries are the most accepting.

While, as you'd expect, you're better off being gay in a country in which Islam hasn't had very much political influence, you're also much better off being gay in a country that's wealthy and prosperous.

On first glance the article writer seems to be favouring the idea that wealthy nations are more open and accepting of homosexuality, and more willing to institutionalise it in marriage. In my view, that proposed causality is slightly adrift of the truth - it's more probably the case that many of the same things that helped the nations' prosperity just happen to be the same things that make them open to homosexuality - that is, respect for the rights of individuals, a stable society, and high value of freedom and tolerance - all of which are what helped those nations become prosperous.

It's also worth adding that the more a country is influenced by Islam* the less likely it is to be broadly tolerant and open to individual freedom, which means not only is it more likely to be unaccepting of homosexuality, it is also less likely to be wealthy and prosperous.

The upshot is, if you're going to be the sort of society in which gay couples can win the freedom and tolerance they require to foster acceptance of homosexuality, you're going to need to be the sort of society that values freedom and tolerance anyway. So my hunch is that it's not that economic prosperity has made homosexual acceptance possible, but rather that the same qualities that engender economic growth are also the qualities that engender the qualities required for acceptance of homosexuality.

* Sadly, I'm sorry to say, there are a few parts of the world (some African countries, for example), in which Christian homophobic intolerance is pretty rife.