Research finds correlation between gender norms and views towards gays and lesbians

New research is diving into the beliefs regarding gender norms and the general perception towards gay men and lesbian women in different countries. 

As members of the LGBTQ+ community are often challenged by hatred and discrimination across societies the world over, a group of researchers have
analysed the link between gender norm beliefs and the perception towards gay men and lesbian women in both the west and the east.

As part of several reports published in Social Psychological and Personality Science focused on underrepresented populations, the study found that gay men are disliked more than lesbian women across 23 countries, with negative attitudes mostly guided by the idea that gays and lesbians violate traditional gender norms.

However, they discovered that in China, India, and South Korea, the correlation between beliefs in gender norms and attitudes towards gays and lesbians were absent or even reversed.

Noting that most research focuses on homosexuality as a broad category and doesn’t separate attitudes by gender, the team – Maria Laura Bettinsoli, Alexandra Suppes, and Jamie Napier from New York University – Abu Dhabi, assessed the attitudes towards gay men and lesbian women separately.

The researchers were surprised at how consistently gay men were rated more negatively than lesbian women in a vast majority of their samples.

Bettinsoli said they were also surprised at the consistency of the relationship between gender norm endorsement and sexual prejudice.

“Even though there were some non-Western countries that did not conform to the pattern, the majority of countries did. We also found that, in line with previous research, the endorsement of gender norms was associated with anti-gay attitudes – toward both gay men and lesbian women – in every Western country in our,” said Bettinsoli.

Research also indicated that that endorsement of gender norms was unrelated to attitudes toward gays and lesbians in South Korea, and in Japan, there was a small association between gender norm endorsement and attitudes toward gay men, but not towards lesbian women.

“In China and India, the reverse pattern emerged. Those who were highest on the endorsement of traditional gender roles were the most positive toward gay men and lesbian women,” explained Bettinsoli.