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Thursday, 3 May 2007

Some statistics on homosexuality

Recently, a government leader said that there may come a time when Singapore will have to give homosexuals as much freedom and rights as heterosexuals. Given this leader's esteemed stature, his statement set off a flurry of emotional responses.

One letter to the press, written by Jonathan Cheng Hern Sinn on May 1, 2007, touched on some topics that raised the ire of many readers. While I thought that what he said was from a biased viewpoint, I thought that I should take an objective approach and see if there was any evidence to back up his claims.

Caveats:

  • This is not a scientific study. My sample of countries was based primarily on the legal status of homosexuality, i.e. if same-sex marriages or unions are allowed, and if there are penalties against homosexual acts. For countries that were not favourable to homosexuals, I selected countries randomly, though most of them ended up to be Asian or African (perhaps due to their more conservative natures).
  • Due to availability, figures were taken from a variety of sources. Where possible, I tried to use similar reporting years, mostly on or after 2001.
My collection of data.

Here's what I found:
Quote: "My expatriate friends find Singapore a conducive place in terms of its low crime and cleanliness."
Unfortunately, crime statistics were difficult to come by for about half of my sample. But from what I could dig up, homicidal rates were tied more closely with a country's status of development (based on GDP per capita and unemployment rate) than legality of homosexuality. And the rate of reported rapes did not seem to depend on any particular factor, i.e. developed status, homosexual legality, region.

Again, note that this is inconclusive because crime statistics were unavailable for less developed or more conservative countries.

Quote: "One does not find pornography sold openly in a neighbourhood shop."
Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to look for any statistics on the sale of pornography. Based on anecdotal evidence, though, one would be more likely to find pornography sold openly in American and European countries, which also tended to be favourable towards homosexuals. On the other hand, the illicit trade of pornography has been known to be brisk in Asian countries, which were less homosexual friendly.

Quote: "To legalise homosexuality will compound these problems (declining birth rate and breakdown of families), given that homosexual couples do not reproduce."
As amazing as it sounds, figures on marriages and divorces were also difficult to find on the Web! Based on what I found, the marriage rate seemed to be higher and divorce rates lower in countries where homosexuality was illegal.

But like crime rates, statistics on marriages and divorces were unavailable for less developed, more conservative (and homosexual unfriendly) countries.

Ah, but fertility rates were available. And yes, they were higher in countries that penalise homosexuality. In particular, the stricter the punishment (death or life sentence), the higher the fertility rate. However, in my sample, Singapore bucked the trend by having laws against homosexuality and being the country with the lowest fertility rate!

Quote: "This (homosexuals' promiscuous and hedonistic lifestyle) increases the risk of STDs, Aids, etc, further increasing the risk to the general population."
I found that this statement could swing both ways (pardon the pun). In countries that had the death penalty against homosexuals, there was a lower incidence of people living with HIV/AIDS (both homosexual and heterosexual). But there was a higher incidence in countries with more lenient punishments, i.e. jail or fine.

So one could make the case that a strong deterrence against homosexuality could result in a lower rate of HIV/AIDS. But if you were lenient, then people would take advantage of the situation and become more promiscuous.

And what of homosexual friendly countries? They were in the lower-middle range, meaning they were relatively "safer" (as the conservatives would spin it) against HIV/AIDS.

In conclusion:
  1. Homicidal rate was more dependent on a country's developed status.
  2. Fertility rate was lower in countries where homosexuality was legal.
  3. Inconclusive about relationship between legality of homosexuality and rape, marriage and divorce rates.
  4. More people living with HIV/AIDS could be found in countries that had more lenient punishments against homosexuality. But countries that legally recognised homosexuals had lower incidences of such people.
So it would seem that I've lent fire to both sides. Just to repeat: this is not a scientific study! I'm sure a more thorough study would be able to bring out some concrete conclusions.

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