The red marked countries (76) on the left map have all laws that are anti-homosexual. What stands out is that almost all the countries are from Asia or Africa and that all countries and are all south from the north-south development border. So this tells us that countries that are the harshest against gay people are also the less developed ones. Why is that?
According to an analysis by Amy Adamczyk (2017), there are 3 major factors that influence the acceptance for gay rights: economic development, freedom of speech and religion.
Looking at the pictures above you can see that economic development definitely has a big impact on gay acceptance, and when you think about it, it seem quite logical. People in less developed countries focus more on their basic needs such as clean water, food and shelter. People there think a lot about surviving and not about living a cheerful life. So when someone is homosexual, it will have worse consequences than for people in e.g. The Netherlands. In The Netherlands you have excellent health care, you can retire and still take care of yourself. In less developed places, this is different. When you don’t work, you don’t have money. If you don’t have children, nobody will take care of you when you’re too old too work, so you must reproduce, just to survive when you’re too old to work.
Another reason is that people in less developed places are working in a more often in a community or group. They often must work together in order to fulfill their basic needs. When you’re part of a certain community where the people are closely connected, you are likely to develop a group mentality, something you don’t want to differ from on your own. So people are less likely to start having feelings towards someone from their sex or to ever come out because they do not want to differ.
Freedom of speech is an other factor Adamczyk mentioned. By doing a survey with over 200,000 people from over the world, it turned out that people living in democratic countries were more gay supportive than people living in dictatorships or religious countries. Which again, makes sense. In democratic countries you have the right to speak up, and tell people your opinion about things, such as gay rights. They are more free to express their ideas so which will lead to more tolerance if more people decide to speak up.
The third factor Adamczyk named is dominant religious views. Since every major religion disapproves homosexuality, this is a very big factor. In countries where are religions like the Islam or Eastern Orthodoxy are dominating, you see very low acceptance rates of gay rights. This is mainly because people in such countries are taught since they were a child that you should always follow their God or holy book. Everything that is in there is always right. This causes religious people not to think for themselves anymore. They are taught that you should always marry someone of the opposite gender and that something else is not possible or is considered treason to your God.
Now luckily people, mainly in western societies, are trying to raise gay acceptance all over the world. The Gay Parade in Amsterdam every year is a great example of this. It is a massive event in the canals of Amsterdam where thousands of people on the water and at the sides of the water are celebrating equality for LGBTQ people but also still try to raise awareness for the people that do not yet have these rights.
An other example is that from the 13th till the16th of October all captains of soccer teams in the highest Dutch league wore a LGBTQ captain band. By doing this, a lot of people got to know about this issue since it evolves a different audience than the Gay Parade does.
A 3rd thing we can do is organize or be a part of protests. If we spend a lot of attention to gay rights, a lot of people will start to care about it, as long as it stays an up-to-date topic and a lot of people talk about it. The longer you spread the word on for example social media, the more people in countries where acceptance rates are not that high will start talking about it, which will automatically raise acceptance.
We can’t however trust everything on the internet so I will now compare my research to my findings in my engagement interviews. To summarize person A I interviewed: He is a atheist man with Muslim parents. He is homosexual and his parents don’t accept it. His believes on the question ‘Why do you think that a lot of people have a hard time accepting homosexual people?’ is ‘I think that in our society most people think that men should be manly and women should be girly. Most people expect from gay men that they are more girly than straight men.’ So in essence, homosexuals are different and therefore they get left out. You could compare this to a school, where often the one who differs from the rest, gets bullied.
To an other question ‘Why do you think that homosexuality is a bigger taboo in Asian and Islamic countries than in Western countries?’ he answered: ‘The western lifestyle is very individually. In eastern or Islamic lifestyles one focuses more on others. So that might be a reason why people living in Western countries accept it more easily, because everybody thinks, that’s your life, I don’t get to decide things for you.’ (Anonymous person A, 2018)
This is something anonymous person B agrees with. He is a refugee now living in The Netherlands for 3 years now, when he was 21 he fled Iraq. When I asked him about this he said that this is very true. To give an example, he says it is a social rule in Iraq that any stranger can sleep at your house for a maximum of 3 days when he’s stranded. This is a huge difference compared with the west. Here in The Netherlands, people wouldn’t even think about it, they would instantly say no. So because people living in eastern or Islamic countries feel more connected to each other, it is also harder for one to be different than the rest. (Anonymous person B, 2018)