Justice

The Countries With the Best Gay Laws Are Actually Self-Centered

Same-sex experiences and bisexuality are on the rise in America, according to a new study, and one of the researchers told ATTN: that there could be a surprising explanation.

We're self-centered, according to new research published Wednesday in the journal "Archives of Sexual Behavior." San Diego State University researcher and author of "Generation Me" Jean Twenge and her colleagues tracked the increase in same-sex American sexual behavior. They found that a growing trend toward individualism could be a significant factor in the rise in same-sex experiences.

"Increasing individualism may be at the root of several cohort differences, including more positive self-views, less empathy, and a more dismissive view of relationships," wrote the study authors.

Basically many Americans no longer give a f*&% about society's sexual expectations, because they simply don't have to anymore.

Money

"More resources can lead to more individualism, as people need to rely on others less," Twenge said. The theory is that people in societies with enough resources can take the risk of engaging in same-sex behavior outside of traditional values because they are not going to starve to death or suffer a great financial loss if their family disagrees with their sexuality.

Family Farm

People in developed countries with economic resources like the U.S. are not necessarily callous or uncaring, but they express a higher degree of individualism because they don't have to depend on their families and communities to survive.

Countries with the most progressive gay rights laws and attitudes have citizens who are characterized as individualistic and independent, Twenge explains.

"Individualism is a cultural system that places more emphasis on the self and less on social rules," Twenge said. "For a long time, social rules included prohibitions against sex with people of the same gender. An individualistic culture, on the other hand, says you should pursue the sexual partners you desire, not that society tells you, you can have."

This willingness to go against tradition correlates with more people exploring gay and bisexual experiences. Twenge and her colleagues analyzed responses from the General Social Survey, a survey with more than 33,000 American participants since 1972. Here's what they found:

  • The number of women who reported at least one same-sex experience as an adult has more than doubled since the early 1990s from 3.6 percent to 8.7 percent in 2010.
  • The percentage of men who said that they had at least one same-sex experience nearly doubled from 4.5 percent to 8.2 percent.

Along with this increase in same-sex experiences in America and people's increased openness toward their sexuality, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of gay marriage last year. Countries with an individualist culture usually value the right to express individuality, including sexual orientation. "Individualistic countries are more likely to have laws promoting equality for LGBT individuals, such as legal same-sex marriage," Twenge said.

Other developed countries including Canada, England, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and Argentina have national laws for gay rights, according to Pew Research Center. Like the U.S., these countries have enough economic resources for individual expression to grow.

Other countries with less resources and higher poverty levels have some of the harshest laws against homosexuality. In Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Mauritania, people who engage in gay sex can be executed, according to The Washington Post. Other countries like Honduras see high levels of violence against LGBT people. More than 80 people have been killed in hate crimes in Honduras since 2009, according to Newsweek.

However not every country with economic resources values individualism and the ability to express sexual orientation. Japan has a successful economy but also has traditional values. "Countries with more resources tend to be more individualistic, though there are exceptions," Twenge said. "Japan, for example, is a rich country that is very collectivistic." Japan does not recognize gay marriage on the national level, although some local governments in Tokyo have issued non-legally binding marriage certificates.

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