Cultures without Homosexuality: They Do Exist!
James R. Aist
(Note: the numbers in parentheses refer to specific references listed at the end of the article)
Homosexual activists often claim that homosexuality is universal among the cultures of the world. They do this to convince the heterosexual majority that homosexuality is normal, that it has a biological (genetic) basis and that it is immutable (unchangeable). To the extent that they can convince the heterosexual majority that this claim is true, they can garner support for the “gay agenda.” But is this claim really true? Do all of the cultures of the world really have homosexuality, and is homosexuality always a stable cultural characteristic? Let’s have a look at the evidence.
There are several kinds of cultural evidence indicating that homosexuality is not genetically determined, but is, instead, strongly influenced by post-natal events and factors. Much of this evidence was reviewed by Whitehead and Whitehead (1), and I will first mention some of the highlights of their review before moving on to other evidence. If causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then it would appear in about the same percentage in all cultures, but this is clearly not the case. The prevalence of homosexuality has varied considerably in different cultures. For example, Ford and Beach (23) found that in the 79 cultures they surveyed, homosexuality was rare or absent in 29 and lesbianism was found in only 17. Homosexuality is also historically and exceptionally rare among Orthodox Jews. And among the genetically related tribes of the New Guinea Highlands, homosexuality was mandatory among one tribe, practiced by 2-3% of a second tribe and completely unheard of in a third tribe. A significant number of cultures appear not to have practiced homosexuality at all. Moreover, if causation of homosexuality were to be genetically determined, then its occurrence in any given culture would be stable over very long periods of time (e.g., 1,000 years or more), but in some cultures, homosexuality disappeared within several generations. Anthropologists attribute many such sudden changes in the occurrence of homosexuality to Christian influences, which represent a set of post-natal, non-biological, cultural factors.
Two original scientific studies merit particular mention in this regard. Broude and Greene (2), anthropologists from Harvard University, used the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample of 186 societies representing different and independent culture clusters within major areas of the world. This data base is considered to be the best representative sample of world cultures (3). They found that 12% of these cultures had “No concept of homosexuality.” Moreover, in 59% of these cultures, homosexuality was “Absent or rare.” A necessary conclusion from these results is that homosexuality does not exist in a great many of the cultures of the world. More recently, Hewlett and Hewlett (3), anthropologists from Washington State University, interviewed 35 members of an Aka forager band and 21 members of a Ngandu farmer village of the Central African Republic. The Aka had no concept of homosexuality, and it was absent from their culture. The Ngandu were familiar with the concept of homosexuality from visits by some village members to the capital city, but they had no word for it in their language. And homosexuality was absent in and around their village. In both of these cultures, sex was considered to be of paramount importance for the purpose of procreation and was highly valued primarily for that purpose alone. Furthermore, from a review of the relevant literature, these authors concluded that the Euro-American human sexuality literature, including some college textbooks, gives the false impression that homosexuality is a human universality. Whereas, in fact, the Euro-American patterns of homosexuality are quite unusual by cross-cultural standards; homosexuality is more common in this demographic than it is elsewhere in the world. By contrast, sexual practices of the Aka and Ngandu are not unusual by the same cross-cultural standards.
Homosexuality does not conform to any genetically prescribed model, but it does appear to have an overwhelmingly cultural component, ebbing and flowing with changes in cultural values, such as the introduction of Christianity, and with different cultural expectations (1). Several cultures do not even have a concept of homosexuality, and a great many have little or no homosexuality at all. Therefore, the claims by homosexual activists that homosexuality is universal among the cultures of the world and is immutable are patently and demonstrably false.
(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)
1. Whitehead, N. and B. Whitehead. 2012. Chapter 6. What do different cultures tell us about homosexuality? (click HERE)
2. Broude, G. and S. Greene. 1976. Cross-Cultural Codes on Twenty Sexual Attitudes and Practices. Ethnology 15:409-430.
3. Hewlett, B. and B. Hewlett. 2010. Sex and Searching For Children Among Aka Foragers and Ngandu Farmers of Central Africa. African Study Monographs 31:107-125. (click HERE)