LGBTQ in Global Context Overview

In this section:

Sexuality and gender have different impacts in each culture’s laws, attitudes, and organizations. More secular and “modernized” societies often have more favorable treatment of LGBTQ individuals than societies which value tradition and religious piety. However, accurate generalizations are difficult to make; even within the US, attitudes towards LGBTQ individuals vary from state to state. It is important to obtain correct information about the specific region that you are interested in.

Cultural differences in LGBTQ issues have wide-ranging effects. Other cultures may have different ways of expressing affection—for example, in India, it is common for same-sex friends to hold hands without any assumption of a romantic connection—or of categorizing gender and sexuality—for example, in parts of Latin America, a man is not considered gay if he engages in same-sex intercourse as the insertive partner. Thus, American English terms and conceptualizations of LGBTQ issues may not directly translate.

The visibility of LGBTQ individuals and organizations varies by culture. Some cultures have an underground LGBTQ scene where LGBTQ individuals are tolerated as long as they remain mainly closeted, whereas other cultures may have a more open and organized community of LGBTQ individuals. In addition, some cultures may provide legal protection for LGBTQ individuals and recognize their partnerships, while other cultures may criminalize same-sex intercourse. Finally, there may be major differences within the LGBTQ community in a specific culture; for example, in parts of southeastern Asia it is considered culturally acceptable for a man to have sex with a feminine transgendered man, while there are no such provisions for women having sex with transgendered women.

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