Sexual orientation, controversy, and science

J. Michael Bailey*, Paul L. Vasey, Lisa M. Diamond, S. Marc Breedlove, Eric Vilain, Marc Epprecht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ongoing political controversies around the world exemplify a long-standing and widespread preoccupation with the acceptability of homosexuality. Nonheterosexual people have seen dramatic surges both in their rights and in positive public opinion in many Western countries. In contrast, in much of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Oceania, and parts of Asia, homosexual behavior remains illegal and severely punishable, with some countries retaining the death penalty for it. Political controversies about sexual orientation have often overlapped with scientific controversies. That is, participants on both sides of the sociopolitical debates have tended to believe that scientific findings-and scientific truths-about sexual orientation matter a great deal in making political decisions. The most contentious scientific issues have concerned the causes of sexual orientation-that is, why are some people heterosexual, others bisexual, and others homosexual? The actual relevance of these issues to social, political, and ethical decisions is often poorly justified, however.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-101
Number of pages57
JournalPsychological Science in the Public Interest
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Causes
  • Sex differences
  • Sexual orientation
  • Social implications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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