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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Formerly Socialist Countries More Homophobic

Posted by on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 12:57 PM

If a large and credible study—say one conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center—found higher levels of tolerance for LGBT people in formerly socialist countries like Russia and the Czech Republic, social conservatives would be screaming that tolerance for sexual immorality is one of the lingering consequences of that terrible, no-good, really-bad socialism stuff that Barack Obama wants to shove down all of our throats. But the NORC study found lower levels of tolerance for sexual minorities in formerly socialist countries...

The study concludes that "overwhelmingly, societies have become more accepting of homosexual behavior." Thirty-one countries were identified with data that showed trends in public opinion about homosexual behavior. Of those, approval of homosexuality increased in 27 countries and in only 4 countries did it decrease: Russia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Latvia. Moreover, the growth in approval was stronger than the decline. The one regional trend that was identified was that changes tended to be slower or reversed in Russia and other ex-Socialist countries.

If fighting the gay agenda is the #1 priority of the religious right—and that's what they've said it is—then America's religious conservatives should be advocating for socialism. Priorities, people!

The study is here.


Comments (34) RSS

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Do we really need to be making our point using logical fallacies? I thought we were winning because we had good arguments.
Posted by Corydon on May 31, 2011 at 1:07 PM · Report this
There's a very good reason for this, and it unfortunately doesn't buck the stereotype. After Stalin, a semi-moderate social conservatism was introduced as official state policy in Communist countries. Unlike the image some people may have, the norm of these places wasn't free for all libertinism, but social norms enforced by the idea that only decadent bourgeois people engaged in practices like homosexuality or had sex with multiple partners. People who were gay were regularly sent to mental institutions, and seen as subversive to the State, and anti-working class, the last probably because of gay stereotypes coming out of England.
Posted by Theoretical on May 31, 2011 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Pmasp 4
Not surprising for those who remember the Micah Painter attack here a few years ago (by Russians with broken vodka bottles!) and the hundreds of Russian immigrants who supported the psychotics who almost killed him at trial.

{But weird since so much gay porn comes from former Bloc countries.}
Posted by Pmasp on May 31, 2011 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 5
It's not just the poor oppressed gays this time. These places are virulently racist against blacks, Jews, pretty much anything not squeaky white & similar to them.

In international football/soccer games held in the 'Eastern Bloc', there are routine nasty incidents of monkey-chants & bananas thrown at black players. Nothing is ever done about this. It's how it is, there.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on May 31, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
Thank-you, "Theoretical". Back in the 'Sixties, conservatives---who often back then didn't even _try_ to sound libertarian---seemed to have an obvious hard-on for the social aspects of Bolschewik State Capitalism: 'In Russia, the young people don't sass their elders: their hair isn't long, they don't listen to evil rock music, and they don't dodge the draft!'

In Soviet Russia, the rules of Victorian morality break _you_.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on May 31, 2011 at 1:26 PM · Report this
According to the right, aren't most European countries also socialist? Just about every country in the world with a more left-leaning economy than the US is "socialist," isn't it?
Posted by Diagoras on May 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
It's very interesting to see the collision of these two cultures, as in the incident @4 mentions, but also in the city of West Hollywood, which is more than 40% gay male, and also more than 20% Russian immigrant. They get along there, uneasily, because they don't have a choice. In places with much smaller percentages, a certain level of violence goes by under the radar.
Posted by Fnarf on May 31, 2011 at 1:46 PM · Report this
OuterCow 10
@8 Social Security, Medicare; we've been socialists for awhile now.
Posted by OuterCow on May 31, 2011 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Not only is gay marriage legal in communist Nepal, they just did a census which allowed for a third gender. I think the effect in the countries in question has more to do with the rampant resurgence of right-wing bandit capitalism, if it has to do with anything at all.
Posted by eptified on May 31, 2011 at 2:20 PM · Report this
Camembert 13
The Soviet Union under Lenin decriminalised homosexuality. At that time, homosexuality was legal in very few countries (France, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, Mexico, Honduras, a few microstates, dependencies & colonies). It was only after the Stalinist counter-revolution that homosexuality was made illegal again.

Also, whilst the former Stalinist countries of the Eastern Bloc were certainly not capitalist and had centralised, planned economies, it would be hard to argue that they were socialist using any meaningful & not totally superficial definition of socialism. Just as capitalist countries that have nationalised healthcare, welfare systems and proportionally larger public sectors than the US aren't socialist.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 2:37 PM · Report this
People are getting confused. "Socialist" was the Soviet era word for communist. Modern socialist countries such as most of the west are an entirely different matter and are a - in my opinion - superior, more tolerant form of society.
Posted by JJinAus on May 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM · Report this
Camembert 15
@12 - the "shock doctrine" certainly hasn't helped victims of homophobia & racism in countries such as Poland as a bit of divide-&-rule was needed for the transition from no unemployment to mass unemployment. Also, in Poland, Russia & other countries nearby, nationalism and religion are tied together in a way they aren't in for example the UK.

The Stalinist countries also used divide-&-rule tactics that emphasised "family values". Although there are some anamolies. Whilst East Germany repressed homosexuality & had a very strict idea of an idealist role of the family within society, it legalised homosexuality both de facto & de jure before West Germany.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 3:05 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 16
I'd be willing to bet that this has more to do with a resurgent religiosity than *any* particular economic system.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on May 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM · Report this
This explains all the gay bashing in Portland.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Camembert 18
@14 - socialism is an economic system whereby the means of production are commonly owned & used for the benefit of society. The former Stalinist states of eastern Europe were sufficiently bureauocratic to not fit this definition. There is nowhere in the west that is socialist.

Communism is a theoretical stage of economic development that Marx suggested would replace capitalism if a socialist economic system prevailed.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 19
It has nothing to do with their being Russian or Latvian it has everything to do with the Orthodox Church being given free reign again. In Russia now every other person is seeing a miracle and they are all "learning" about the Church. The people's minds are ripe for poisoning by the Church.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on May 31, 2011 at 3:54 PM · Report this
Camembert 20
The study is very interesting. The former Eastern Bloc countries that show the lowest levels of bigotry are East Germany (lower levels than West Germany) & Czech Republic. These, along with Estonia (frustratingly not in the survey), are among the most irreligious countries in the world. There is also less link between nationalism or national identity & religion as there is in for instance Poland or Russia.

One of the most pleasing statistics is that the proportion of people in Ireland who think that homosexuality is always wrong has fallen from 61% to 25% & the proportion who think it is not wrong at all has risen from 12% to 35%. This is in the period 1991-2008. Also a period in which the Catholic Church in Ireland has been discredited and lost a lot of influence.

Shout out to the Netherlands who can't even muster a quarter of it's population to hold bigoted views.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 4:23 PM · Report this
Simac 21
@18: There is a good case to be made that the five Nordic countries as welfare states are socialist - and not just in the way the welfare states are set up structurally but also in people's values.
Posted by Simac on May 31, 2011 at 5:15 PM · Report this
Camembert 22
@21 I have never heard a good case that Denmark, Sweden, Norway & Finland are socialist. What is missing in their economic system - for capital to be publicly owned & run for the benefit of society rather than shareholders - is missing. Without that there is no socialism. I assume the fifth Nordic country you are referring to is Iceland, most famous currently for its hot springs, pickled fish & casino capitalism.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 5:46 PM · Report this
As I learned in my high school economics class, there is no economy in the world that is 100% capitalist or 100% socialist. The degree to which a country is socialist or capitalist runs on a continuum. Even in North Korea, there is a black market which is private. Even in the United States, we have social security, public roads and public education. In Western Europe, even though they have a large social safety net, they still have private enterprise. The whole idea of throwing out socialist and capitalist labels usually makes me skeptical of the knowledge of the person doing the labelling.
Posted by Smell on May 31, 2011 at 6:32 PM · Report this
tunanator 24
fighting the gay agenda is the #1 priority of the religious right

Substitute 'freedom' for 'the gay agenda'. That's what they're really fighting. Because they know - so long as they hold onto fear, ignorance, hate, arrogance, superstition - they know they'll *never* have it.

That doesn't stop you or me. The hater stews in the hater's own juices, and is consumed by it.
Posted by tunanator on May 31, 2011 at 7:18 PM · Report this
@22 Also the Scandinavian countries aren't as socialist as they used to be. According to The Economist France surpassed Sweden as the European country with the greatest proportion of its economy under state control around the year 2000.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on May 31, 2011 at 7:42 PM · Report this
Camembert 26
@23 Labels can be problematic because there will eventually be grey areas but idea of a continuum is vastly oversimplified to the point of being pointless because there aren't just two potential types of economy, socialist & capitalist. Before capitalism, for example, the main type of economy in Europe was feudalism. Another axis for the continuum.

However, economies are very fluid & can show features of another type of economy. Having a welfare state or publicly owned roads or railways does not knock percentage points off a country's capitalism barometer. It just means that a different capitalist government is governing differently. The Nordic States are definitely capitalist with very, very limited features of socialism. The basis of their economies are privately-owned companies run for profit. The publicly owned services and utilities are in place, designed & limited by law to support the capitalist system. To keep stability (for example unemployment benefits) to maintain a certain level & standard of workers that business requires (health & education) or to help businesses fulfill their potential (roads, railways, ports). But even with these public utilities or services the system is still capitalist.

Back to Dan's original point. This isn't a capitalist/socialist thing. The Nordic countries show less homophobia than most other countries. They are also traditionally countries that have been stable & prosperous (low poverty rates, low unemployment rates, high standard of living). Instability is the breeding ground of bigotry and hatred. Homophobia, racism, nationalism, sectarianism are all tools used to divide or distract during times of crisis. The religious right in the US use homophobia & islamophobia to distract from the fact that they have failed on their elected mandate of tackling unemployment, just like the politicians in Russia use homophobia, racism & nationalism to hide that capitalism has failed the Russian people - unemployment is up & life expectancy down since the days of the USSR. The result: the crisis gets worse & gay people suffer.
Posted by Camembert on May 31, 2011 at 8:04 PM · Report this
So as these countries have become more free-market and more religious they have also become more homophobic. Surely, for social conservatives, that is welcome news all round? Not seeing how it presents a problem for their world view...
Posted by FeralTurnip on May 31, 2011 at 8:31 PM · Report this
Of course. Socialism - and post-socialism - likes its people to be all like each other. It's not just the gays we dislike, it's everyone who's even a little bit different. Different race, different clothes, different "lifestyle" (not necessarily sexuality). For god's sakes, my colleagues are always laughing at a guy at work with a slightly unusual haircut. It's almost like in high school. Just be like everyone else, or you are not just weirdo, you become an outcast.
Posted by puddles on May 31, 2011 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Umm, you folks have all seen the video from the moscow Pride parade/protest this week, right? Scary...…
Posted by Michael Wells on May 31, 2011 at 9:47 PM · Report this
@26 I don't think there is much of a connection between what kind of economy a country has and its attitude toward gays. According to this study when the Berlin Wall came down in 1991 East and West Germany had nearly identical attitudes about homosexuality. Russia may have become a lot less tolerant since the mid-90s but Russia has also become a dictatorship since then. Totalitarian societies tend not to like non-conformists.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on May 31, 2011 at 9:49 PM · Report this
Another fallacy is that these countries are more homophobic. This is not so. They have always been thus. Living in a Stalinist state means that being an active homosexual was not even an option and you have many more problems that just that.
Posted by JJinAus on June 1, 2011 at 1:59 AM · Report this
I think we're better off with "socialist" and "capitalist" used as adjectives rather than l[ai]belling nouns.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on June 1, 2011 at 4:46 AM · Report this
Despite what socialist idealists living in capitalist countries believe, socialist revolutions have a strong trend toward conformity. What's more non-conformist than gay sex? Commie darlings like Che "Round 'em Up" Guevara put gays in camps with others he considered mentally ill.

This is part of the weirdness of modern politics. Republicans want fiscal freedom and hate social freedom, Democrats vice versa. Che's uniform hatred of choice and diversity is at least consistent.
Posted by Schorschi on June 1, 2011 at 8:42 AM · Report this
Posted by Yeek on June 1, 2011 at 9:44 AM · Report this
I don't think socialism per se had much to do with homphobic feelings in Eastern Europe -- what happened is simply that the Iron Curtain shielded them from the kind of influence that swept through the Western world in the '60s and '70s, and went on till the fall of the USSR. People there weren't noticeably more homophobic than elsewhere before the November revolution, as far as I can tell. They just didn't change things much in terms of public and private opinion about 'teh gayz'...

Juris Kaža, a commetator on things Latvian, wrote an article about his experience with Lat…. As you can see, all the 'arguments' are the same old ones which have been heard for generations. A more recent event, also discussed by Kaža, was protest against the inclusion of the opinion of a psycho… -- again with the same kind of stupid arguments.

It's not that socialism made Eastern Europe homophobic, it's that it shielded it against the overall decrease in homophobia in the West. And also from the decrase in other kinds of bigotry, from sexism to racism. Eastern Europeans are simply more like Europeans (and Americans) used to be like 70, 80 years ago with respect to these social questions.

This is all a terrible pity. I quite like Eastern Europeans -- Latvians and Estonians are among the people I have a very deep interest for. Still, clearly they haven't got the memo about bigotry being bad. There's still a lot of growing for these peoples to do.
Posted by ankylosaur on June 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM · Report this
John Horstman 36
Um, doesn't this imply that these countries become less tolerant of homosexuality once 'socialist' systems end, not that 'socialism' makes countries less tolerant?
Posted by John Horstman on June 1, 2011 at 11:35 AM · Report this
@36, I think it's neither: I think these countries are just as intolerant of homosexuality as they always were, it's just that "socialism" had no impact on that.
Posted by ankylosaur on June 1, 2011 at 2:37 PM · Report this

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