It is generally held to be a dubious proposition that homosexuality and paedophilia are linked. While some paedophiles are homosexually orientated towards both adults and children, this does not in tself_demonstrate a causal association between the two. There are a number of issues:
Nevertheless, hostility towards homosexuals has meant that the general public has been antipathetic towards the employment of gay men as teachers of underage students. It is wrong to assume that homosexuality characterizes a fixed and identifiable proportion of the population: the situation is far more complex than this allows.
Since the famous Kinsey reports (Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, 1948; Kinsey et at., 1953) on human sexuality, it has been believed that homosexual experiences are common even in sectors of the population regarding themselves as heterosexual. For example, Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin (1948) found only 50% of people to be exclusively heterosexual throughout their lives.
Are the others to be deemed homosexual because of, say, their childhood sexual experiences? Such problems mean that casual questions about paedophilia and homosexuality are far more
One implication of such low rates, of course, is that homosexuals are
more marginal than suggested by previous studies and less than a numerically substantial minority. Such low estimates also have implications for interpreting the high rates of boy-orientation among paedophiles.
An alternative approach would be to assess the rates of homosexuality among paedophiles themselves. This is unlikely to be very fruitful for obvious reasons. For example, there is no evidence or belief that female homosexuals are involved in the equivalent of the sort of "boy-love" movement that characterizes the more public aspects of paedophilia.
The question could be refined:
It is important to distinguish homosexuality directed towards adults from that directed towards underage children. This allows us to see that adult-orientated homosexuals are no more likely to become sexually involved with children than are heterosexuals.
Surveys have identified few paedophiles amongst homosexuals: Westwood (1960) found less than 3% claiming to be interested in young people sexually -- which is not the same as actual sexual contacts.
Another study showed that nearly half of the men convicted of sexually molesting boys were actually married at the time (Gebhard et al., 1965); less than a third preferred children sexually to older people. Using measures of sexual arousal to different sets of pictures, it was discovered that although heterosexual men were sexually aroused by pictures of girls rather than by those of landscapes, homosexual men were no more aroused by pictures of boys than landscapes (Freund, 1963).
In short, just knowing the nature of an adult's sexual involvement with children says little or nothing about their orientation to adult men or women.
But there is an anomaly that cannot be ignored. Offending against boys is considerably more common than expected given typical estimates of homosexual contacts between adults. For example, at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, it was found that over a third of the offenders targeted male children. This is far more than would be expected on the basis of estimates of the male adult- orientated homosexuality rate (Freund et at. , 1984).
Interestingly, as many as 86% of a sample of offenders against boys described themselves as either homosexual or bisexual (Erickson, Walbek and Seely, 1988) although this may be a problem of self-definition rather than an accurate description of their adult sexuality.
Furthermore, while surveys show that victims of child sexual abuse are more likely to be girls (La Fontaine, 1990), nevertheless boys are a large minority of victims. One of the few exceptions to this trend is Gebhard and Gagnon's (1964) finding that only 12% of victims under five years of age were males -- closer to the generally accepted adult homosexuality rate. Significantly, a fifth of those who offended against such young children also had sexual contacts with animals, which led to the interpretation that such offenders were polymorphic -- largely undifferentiating as to sexual object. In the light of this:
On the grounds that paedophilia is uncommon in women, they argue that the mechanism may be physiological in nature, but that is just one of the possibilities.
Some hold, with good reason, that adult homosexuality is a negative indicator of paedophilia. That is, unless a homosexual has a history of paedophile activity with children, he is unlikely to offend against children under any circumstances:
While one might have considerable doubts about Groth and Birnbaum's analysis of the nature of homosexual attraction, they are clearly unequivocal about the risks of adult homosexuals becoming diverted into paedophilia. Homosexuals committed to adult partners will not be forced by situational or personal pressures into even temporary paedophile episodes; heterosexual men apparently pose a far greater risk in this regard.
It is unclear the extent to which paedophiles can be classified as homosexual or heterosexual; it depends too much on what one means by these terms. Some paedophile men choose exclusively underage girls and others exclusively underage boys; others abuse both sexes. It is not uncommon for men who appear heterosexual in terms of their adult partners to choose boys as their illicit targets.
Research at the sexology department of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry looked at the characteristics of men who offended against boys compared with those against girls (Freund, Watson and Rienzo, 1987). Offenders against both sexes were excluded, as were intra-familial offenders and those showing courtship disorders (e.g. exhibitionists). Offenders against girls usually had just one victim (59% compared with 33% of offenders against boys). This trend did not apply to men who had been teenage sex offenders against children.
It is difficult to know precisely what these data imply. Freund, Watson and Rienzo suggest that offenders against girls are often not true paedophiles, otherwise they would exhibit more persistence in finding victims. Offenders against boys are more likely to repeat the offence. Of course, a simpler explanation is that offences against girls are more likely to lead to arrest. Freund, Watson and Rienzo argue that homosexual paedophilia accounts for offences against boys better than heterosexual paedophilia accounts for offences against girls. Unfortunately, this is conjecture since there is no independent evidence of erotic fixation on children other than the number of victims.
Homosexuality might impinge in other ways. Breer (1987), in his
study of adolescent boys who offend sexually against other children, writes of "ego-distonic" homosexuality as a major cause of molestation by teenage boys. This involves conscious or unconscious homosexual feelings that are unacceptable to the boy himself. Some adolescent offenders cannot accept any homosexual adjustment but are unable to change successfully to heterosexuality. Deep conflicts about their personal sexuality are typical. Molesting a girl child may serve as a defence against such concerns.