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Research 2017-11-21T16:28:38+00:00

2017: Religious Anti-Gay Prejudice as a Predictor of Mental Health, Abuse, and Substance Use

Sowe BJ, Taylor AJ, Brown J.

2017;87(6):690-703. doi: 10.1037/ort0000297. Epub 2017 Oct 16.

Abstract

Anti-gay, or homonegative, prejudice is generally considered harmful to the wellbeing of sexual minority individuals. However, the origins or nature of such prejudice may vary. Despite a sizable body of literature suggesting homonegative prejudice is frequently religious-based, the psychological impact of exposure to religious anti-gay prejudice remains largely undetermined. Addressing this research gap, the authors examined whether opposition to same-sex sexuality on religious grounds predicted detrimental outcomes among same- and both-sex attracted individuals, as well as their heterosexual counterparts. A nationwide U.S. sample of 1600 individuals-recruited using contemporary online crowd-sourcing techniques designed to limit selection bias-completed a novel inventory assessing interpersonal exposure to religious (as well as nonreligious) homonegative disapproval. Outcome variables assessed included a number of clinically relevant measures spanning general mental health, social support, suicidality, abuse, and substance use. Analyses revealed that greater exposure to religious anti-gay prejudice predicted higher levels of anxiety, stress, and shame; more instances of physical and verbal abuse; and more problematic alcohol use. Furthermore, while sexual minority individuals tended to fare more poorly than their heterosexual counterparts on almost every outcome measure assessed, homonegative prejudice predicted poorer outcomes among all respondents regardless of their sexual orientation or religious identification. Hence, results are among the first to demonstrate that anti-gay religious exposure is associated with substantial threats to wellbeing, and that such effects may be observed beyond religious sexual minorities. Overall, findings imply that homonegative religious social conditions may be of broader health and mental health concern than is conventionally recognized. PDF HERE

2017: A Silence Like Thunder: Pastoral and Theological Responses of Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches to LGBTQ Individuals

Jennings, M. (2017) A Silence Like Thunder: Pastoral and Theological Responses of Australian Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches to LGBTQ Individuals. In: Wilkinson, M. and Althouse, P., (eds.) Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion. Brill, pp. 215-238.

Abstract

I used to always feel as though the church was always talking about the “invisible children” around the world, when all the while there was a whole community of invisible children sitting amongst the congregation. Nothing was ever relevant to us-relationships seminars, Valentine’s Day, women’s conferences, men’s conferences, the entire community was set up to be heterocentric, so when you come out you have no choice but to leave because there really is no self-respect in staying inside a community that holds up a banner saying “welcome home” while simultaneously rejecting your very presence by silence. The silence was like thunder to me. (JY, personal communication with the author) PDF HERE

Ex-gay/reparative/conversion practices

Forty-five peer-reviewed studies published over the last 30 years addressed the question of whether conversion therapy (CT) can alter sexual orientation without causing harm. Thirteen of those studies included primary research. Of those, 12 concluded that CT is ineffective and/or harmful, finding links to depression, suicidality, anxiety, social isolation and decreased capacity for intimacy. Thirty-two studies do not make an empirical determination about whether CT can alter sexual orientation but may offer useful observations to help guide practitioners who treat LGB patients. Only one study concluded that sexual orientation change efforts could succeed—although only in a minority of its participants, and the study has several limitations: its entire sample self-identified as religious and it is based on self-reports, which can be biased and unreliable. The complete collection of these studies can be found HERE

2015 Sexual orientation change efforts within religious contexts

Sensoria – A Journal of Mind, Brain, and Culture: Volume 11, no 1 (2015)

Abstract:

Societies where ignorance and misinformation about sexuality and gender identity abounds have been breeding grounds for much harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and to the community as a whole. Within the context of the Christian faith, the greatest harm has occurred to those LGBT individuals who have submitted themselves to ex-gay / reparative / conversion ‘therapies’ (i.e., SOCE; Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) and organisations. The practice of seeking to turn homosexual to heterosexual has predominately existed within Christianity, but not exclusively. Programs have operated and still exist in association with Jewish, and more recently Islamic religious communities. This article is a personal account from a former evangelist that details the ‘life cycle’ of SOCEs in Australia and the author’s personal experience with an ex-gay program.
Keywords: SOCE; ex-gay; reparative therapy; conversion therapy; sexual orientation change; sexual orientation change efforts.

Download PDF HERE

2014 Sex and the Sinner: Comparing Religious and Nonreligious Same-Sex Attracted Adults on Internalized Homonegativity and Distress 2014

Babucarr J. Sowe, Jac Brown, and Alan J. Taylor Macquarie University

The experience of prejudice can be psychologically damaging for LGB (Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual) persons, contributing to high rates of suicide, substance abuse, and mental health problems in LGB populations (Meyer, 2003). Religion has been connected with prejudice for a long time (Allport & Ross, 1967), with homonegative prejudice apparent in much of mainstream Christianity. Accordingly, LGB Christians may come to view their religion and sexuality as mutually incompatible, experiencing a fragmenting inner-conflict that demands the rejection of their sexuality, or else risk rejection from ‘God’, Church, and family (Heermann, Wiggins, & Rutter, 2007). This study explores whether LGB Christians were more psychologically distressed over their sexuality than non-religious LGB persons in general, and what particular religious and personal factors were implicated in whether an LGB Christian experienced a religion-sexuality conflict or not. View or download here.

2010 Writing Themselves In 3 (WTi3)

Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University 2010. Lynne Hillier. Tiffany Jones, Marisa Monagle, Naomi Overton, Luke Gahan, Jennifer Blackman, Anne Mitchell

The third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people. Previous WTi studies mentioned the impact of religion on LGBT youth but WTi3 made a distinction between faith and non-faith LGBT youth.

The key findings of those who mentioned religion were:

  • More likely to feel bad about their same sex attraction.
  • More likely to have experienced social exclusion or had to tolerate homophobic language from
  • friends.
  • More likely to report homophobic abuse in the home.
  • More likely to report feeling unsafe at home.
  • More likely to not be supported by their mother, father, brother, teacher or student welfare
  • coordinator/counsellor, when disclosing their SSA.
  • More likely to report thoughts of self harm and suicide or to carry out self harm.

Read relevant section of of WTi3 HERE or complete research publication HERE.

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