Miguel Paraz voted up this answer.
I'll answer your question, and reserve the right to follow my answer with a few pointed comments about your assumptions.
I am really struggling to obey site policy while answering this question, something that rarely happens to me. I will try my best to do so despite my personal reaction to the question. I'm also about to go all Full Statistical Jacket on the question, as well, because I want to make a fairly vehement point.
The short answer is not only no, but hell no
. I have never met or seen a gay person, including myself (since I'm not straight), defend incest.
Why don't we defend incest? Well, among other reasons, incest very, very rarely involves two adults. This means that the relationship cannot be informed, nor can it be considered consensual by any meaningful measure--minors cannot give consent nor are they capable of fully understanding the ramifications of consent. They are also typically dependent on the adult who engages them in an incestuous relationship, leaving them without any meaningful way to leave or get help.Full Statistical Jacket:
To contextualize that claim, let's talk about the prevalence of incest here in the US. In 2012, national CPS agencies found 62,582 unique, substantiated reports of sexual abuse in children under the age of 18, out of 678,810 total unique, substantiated complaints. This makes the prevalence rate 9.2% for sexual abuse complaints, out of the total unique, substantiated complaints. Of all types of abuse reported to CPS, the perpetrator was a parent 81.5% of the time. (US Department of Health
and Human Services, Child Maltreatment: 2012
While there's no specific statistics for sexual abuse and perpetrator relationship, I'm going to guess that the overwhelming majority of it is committed by parents, making incest clearly a problem of child abuse and exploitation.
If a relationship is not informed nor consensual, it's rape. Sex involving a minor under the age of consent and a partner over the age of consent is rape by definition. Depending on the circumstances, it may also be child sexual abuse.edited to add: The most common group of victims for sexual abuse, by age, are 12-14. Ever so often someone will argue consent laws with me, and the misapplication of the law--children in this group are not able to give consent. The most common perpetrator age for sexual abuse is 24-35.This is NOT a matter of overzealous application of statutory rape charge.
It may surprise people to know that people who are not straight believe rape is wrong, and that the abuse of minors is considered a serious issue in queer communities. Many of us know what it is like to be abused, and have zero desire to inflict that on others.
Gender non-conformity, which is high among LGBT youth, is well known to be correlated with sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse in children, leading to PTSD. In the following 2012 study published in Pediatrics, data from 9864 LGBT minors and young adults participating in the Growing Up Today was selected based on childhood gender non-conformity, and categorized based on degree of gender non-conformity. (Roberts et al, "Child Gender Nonconformity: A Risk Indicator for Childhood Abuse and Posttramatic Stress in Youth") In that sample, 9489 of the 9864 individuals reported abuse and/or PTSD symptoms. Abuse was measured up to 17 years of age.
While the study did not directly investigate cause, merely correlation, it is reasonable to suppose that gender non-compliance is a factor in the abuse of children, and specifically that adults abuse children because they are discomforted by the fact that the children don't comply with expectations of gender. Why is it reasonable? Let's talk about the prevalence of child abuse in the US.
Here, let me do the math on prevalence in that sample for you. That's 96.2% of the respondents.
The more the respondents did not conform to gender, the more likely they were to to abused and develop PTSD symptoms, at a prevalence rate of a little more than 1.3 times greater for individuals who were the least gender compliant, as compared to those who were the most gender compliant, for both male and female respondents.
The study is publicly available several places, among them at the NIH.
The national prevalence rate for all types of child abuse in 2012 is ~
4.4%. The statistics were calculated based on 3.2 million referrals to CPS agencies out of a total of 73.6 million persons under the age of 18. (US Census) Total US population under 18: 23.3% of the total population. Of the 6.3 million total referrals, 3.2 million were screened as unique and appropriate to CPS responses, giving the prevalence. (US Dept of Health & Human Services, Child Maltreatment 2012: Summary of Key Findings
I'll reiterate. In the general population, the prevalence rates for all types of abuse is 4.4%
. In the sample of LGBT and gender-noncompliant youth used in the study conducted by Roberts et al, the prevalence for abuse and/or PTSD was 96.2%
LGBT children, if we assume this data is representative (and it is), are 24 times
more likely to be abused than the general population.
But let's be thorough
, shall we?
The following study is behind a paywall, as are most of the really interesting studies. While you can access the abstract for free, I'm afraid you'll only be able to check my reporting if you have access to Science
Milner et al published a study in 2010 performed on a combination of Navy personnel and college students (N = 6110) examining the relationship between childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) and the risk of perpetrating childhood physical abuse. (Milner et al, "Do Trauma Symptoms Mediate the Relationship between Childhood Physical Abuse and Adult Child Abuse Risk?")
In US Navy personnel, 36% reported a history
of CPA and 20% reported a history of CSA. Among college students, 28% reported a history of CPA and 8% reported a history of CSA. Risk of perpetration was assessed using an inventory, and elevated scores (from which the risk was calculated) were observed in 28% of the Navy and 25% of the college sample. Interestingly, gender was not significant for the experience of trauma due to CPA (the observed pattern is likely to be more random than not). For the experience of trauma, CPA and CSA resulted in considerably increased likelihood of trauma symptoms, with general weights higher for navy personnel than college students. Navy personnel were most likely to demonstrate defensive avoidance and college students were most likely to demonstrate concern over their sexuality. Navy scores were generally more likely to exhibit trauma symptoms if they had experienced CSA than college students.
The relationship between elevated risk scores and elevated trauma symptoms was also tested, finding that the risk for perpetrating CPA if the respondent had experienced CPA was almost twice as high before controlling for trauma symptoms and only 1.25 as high after. For college students, the risk of perpetrating CPA if the respondent had experienced CPA was nearly three times higher before controlling for trauma symptoms and was reduced to slightly less than two times higher afterward.
What does this mean in general: study respondents who report elevated trauma scores and childhood abuse are less
likely to perpetrate childhood physical abuse than those who report childhood abuse and no trauma symptoms. They're still more likely to be at an elevated risk for perpetrating child physical abuse than people who have not experienced CPA or CSA, but the experience of trauma reduces that likelihood.
Assuming that I can extrapolate from this sample population to the general one, let's assume a prevalence of exposure to CPA and CSA of roughly 30-32% in the adult general population of the US (~101 million people, using the US Census population clock as I write this and the high end estimate). Some 26-27% of that population will score highly on inventories designed to spot the risk of child abuse, or ~27 million people ( again, using the higher estimate.)
Using the CPS data on child abuse, 3.2 million unique cases were investigated and substantiated in 2013. We know this under-reports the actual prevalence, which I'll estimate to be roughly 8%, using the discrepancy between CPS estimates, which place the prevalence at 4%, and non-CPS estimates, which place the prevalence at ~14% of the general population. (CDC, Child Maltreatment: 2013 Facts at a Glance
) Let's call the estimated actual number of child abuse cases that CPS would find valid to be 5.9 million.
I'll assume the risk measurement tool in Milner's study and my estimates are accurate. The cases are stipulated to be unique in CPS data, eliminating repeated reports on the same child, so we can estimate the number of persons who are actively abusing their children to be around the same (since complaints are usually against individuals.) This will overestimate the number of abusers, since it doesn't eliminate siblings and the chance that reports are filed on a single person stemming from their conduct with multiple children. Reports are filed by victim, not by perpetrator.
Of the ~27 million people at risk of child abuse, some 5.9 million have actively abused children. Around 80% are parents (and Milner et al report that parenthood actively hikes one's risk of abuse), so let's call it 4.72 million parents. For reference to Milner's results, less than a 25% of the people who score highly on that risk scale go on to abuse and only 17% or so are parents. Keep those numbers in mind.
Sexuality is not a stipulated category in Milner et al or CPS results, so we'll have to go another way to talk about incest and LGBT people.
Let's talk about LGBT families (defined as any household grouping in which at least two people are present). According to the US Census for 2012, there are roughly 63 million households in the US. (US Census, Characteristics of Same Sex Couple Households: 2012
) LGBT couples comprise a total of 639,440 households, for a total of 1% of the total households. Of those households, 18.1% contain children, making the total some 115,739 households. Heterosexual households, for both married and unmarried, are more than twice as likely to contain children (40.3 and 41.6%, respectively.) Statistically speaking, straight people have more access to kids than LGBT people do. Also statistically speaking, since the number of households is so small, results may not be fully generalizable.
We can do better than general prevalence, in terms of looking at the prevalence of child abuse in gay households (and, again, parents are overwhelmingly likely to be the perpetrators of CSA). Let's start by looking at lesbian families and their children.
This 2005 study reports the results of a national study on lesbian parents, following them through pregnancy and child-rearing. (Gartrell et al, "The National Lesbian Family
Study: 4. Interviews with the 10-year-old Children.") The sample size is small (reflecting the demographics), some 78 families, of which 74 children consented to be interviewed in followup visits with the family. The parents were given a survey designed to report on their child's competency, health and development, and behavioral/emotional problems, as well as questions designed to get a sense of the parent's social relationships and parenting experiences. The children were administered a separate questionnaire. The children were interviewed at age 10, at the time of the study, with follow-up interviews scheduled at ages 17 and 25 years of age. Questions covered their experience of social interactions (emphasis given to homophobic reactions), and their experience of having lesbian parent or parents.No children in this study on lesbian parents reported being physically or sexually abused by their parents.
Two girls reported sexual abuse by older, unrelated men, and one girl reported being sexually abused by a male peer.
The other results were compared to a normative sample (children using the same survey from the general population). Male and female children in the survey were essentially equivalent on all measures of social competence and behavioral problems with the children in the general population. There was very little overall difference between them on competence, problems, internalization and externalization of problems and sexual problems, and the direction of that difference was not one-sided.
Why include this data on competence and behavioral problems? Because children experiencing CSA or CPA perform very poorly, as a whole, on the previous measures.
This 1994 study, published in Pediatrics, examined the medical charts of children being examined for sexual abuse for perpetrator characteristics. Of the 352 children seen in the clinic, 81 involved an unknown perpetrator or another child, leaving a sample size of 271 cases. Of those 271, only two offenders were characterized as LGBT. In the remaining 269 cases involving an identified adult, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child. (Jenny, Roesler and Poyer, 1994) For that study, 82% of the abuse cases seen involved heterosexual perpetrators
. The estimated risk rate for child sexual abuse perpetrated by LGBT persons, based on an occurrence of 2 out of 296 cases, is less than 1%.
Remember the study I mentioned above about the risk of offending and its mitigation by trauma symptoms and the fleshing out of potential abusers and under-reporting I calculated?
Remember the first study about the frequency of abuse and PTSD perpetrated against LGBT youth?
The very small number of cases involving LGBT child sex abusers seen in that clinic could be reflecting several things, but my favorite candidate is that the high rates of being abused and having PTSD, in addition to the social pressures put on them by homophobia and an elevated risk of being the victim of crime
, are working to reduce their risk of abusing children.
It's also worth noting that very few LGBT couples or individuals opt to (or are allowed to) have children overall, though various recent surveys on LGBT adults indicate a growing interest in adoption. This 2007 study estimates that some two million LGBT individuals in the US are on adoption waiting lists, and nearly half the general LGBT population is considering having, adopting, or fostering a child. (Gates et al, "Adoption and Foster Care by Gay and Lesbian Parents in the United States")
And, just so we're clear, a fair number of adopting LGBT couples are willing to adopt children considered difficult to place (health conditions, older children, mental health
issues, etc.) Gay men, in particular, were more likely than any other demographic group to live with adopted, disabled children over the age of 5. (Gates et al)
As for supporting incest, I'm going to infer that a population of people who are highly unlikely to engage in incest are also going to be highly unlikely to provide support for other people engaging in it. This doesn't mean that no gay person would engage in an incestuous relationship, but the evidence suggests that it is rare like a unicorn that farts money.
First person to bring up Regenerus as a counter argument gets to hear me discuss the ridiculous abuse of statistics for the pursuit of homophobia in language
that will peel your local wallpaper.The Assumptions Underlying that Question:A1:
Any relationship that does not follow the "correct" established pattern of one woman, one man, and monogamy can all be lumped together under the heading of bad or deviant.Note:
This is not a legal, scientific, or medical argument (it doesn't make claims for any of those categories.) It's a moral or ethical argument, and I'll address it as such. The terms of its appeal are in terms of what one should do or be, in order to be a good person. R1:
The operant definition for correct or right relationship here appears to be heterosexual, and by inference, probably also in a committed relationship and/or married. Using common associations for this definition (which are primarily religious in origin), this relationship is supposed to promote social stability, be part of the divine and/or natural order, indicate good ethical character (as compared to not being in a heterosexual relationship and/or not married or committed), and provide the best of possible support for children.
*pauses while thinking
about the statistics in the previous section*
As a dichotomous assertion, the opposite is commonly inferred: if the relationship is not heterosexual and committed or marriage, it promotes social instability, is demonic and/or is unnatural, indicates poor moral character, and is the worst possible environment for children.
Since ethical and moral arguments are often premised on outcomes, let's talk about the outcome of this argument. It makes a categorical assertion about a whole group of people that characterizes them as a source of danger to children and society, as well as uniformly categorizes them as a violation of nature
and a danger to others.
People who are considered to be a danger to children are typically considered to be a safe target for violence, as are people thought to be actively disrupting society and the family.
According to that line of reasoning, LGBT people are justifiably the targets of violence, since they belong to nearly every category of socially justifiable violence. Since the assertion is categorical, so is the justification. If someone is LGBT, then violence against them is acceptable.
*struggles not to give hate crime statistics*A2:
LGBT people perceive incest as equivalent to their own relationships in terms of consent.Note:
This is also a moral or ethical argument. It is also a categorical argument, as was the previous. Unlike the previous, it's a compound argument.R2:
In this case, the first argument is if someone identifies as LGBT, they believe that their relationships are consensual and informed. The next argument is that LGBT people believe that all non-heterosexual relationships are the same, including incest (incest is being assumed here to be non-heterosexual, or at least not the right kind of heterosexual relationship.) The final argument is that because LGBT people believe their relationships are consensual and informed, and because they believe all non-heterosexual relationships are the same, they believe that incest is consensual and informed.
Let's look at the outcome of this argument. As with the previous, it justifies the use of violence against LGBT adults, for the same reasons, but it also does something new. It asserts, sneakily, that LGBT people are more likely to commit incest. How is that argument being made? If all relationships are the same to LGBT adults, what stops them from committing incest? After all, as the line goes, if someone thinks relationships are all the same, they won't think molesting their children is taboo and there's nothing to stop them.
That, by the way, is why I spent so much time on prevalence above.
Not only are LGBT adults a danger, according to this argument, but they're a more pressing danger because they have no reason not to be. Violence is not just justified, it is necessary to protect children. The argument extends a bit further because we are very specifically talking about incest--so not general children, but the children of LGBT people. It's a persuasive reason to prevent LGBT adults from being allowed to have children and for removing the children they have from them.
*grinding my teeth*A3:
LGBT people defend other people's relationships, if they view them to be the same kind of relationship as their own.Note:
Yet another ethical or moral argument from definition. Yay.R3:
Looking at outcomes again, this is yet another argument for violence and the danger presented by LGBT persons, but it is also an argument for social stigmatization (since LGBT adults defend incest but may not be committing it.)
It's also a sneaky argument for persecution, since the same people who use this argument tend to believe that LGBT people wield a great deal of political or social power (occasionally, this extends to the assertion that LGBT people have overwhelming power). Assuming that people who wield a great deal of political and social power are defending incest, people who aren't defending incest are in the minority in terms of political and social power. This makes the defense of LGBT relationships (and the assumed defense of incest), whenever it occurs, part of the exercise of that overwhelming power in society, and a form of oppression.
I can't even tell you how angry it makes me that this is the line of reasoning is employed. Not only are heterosexual people not the minority or the only people who believe incest is wrong, but the use of defending LGBT relationships to justify a belief that the minority is oppressing the majority...
The term "tortured logic
" is not descriptive enough of that line of reasoning.
I'm going to sum up the premises as eight kinds of crap, used to justify violence and discrimination, as well as to defend that violence and discrimination as the actions of a persecuted minority.A Personal Note:
I'm going to do my best to be BNBC compliant, here.
I routinely hear family members using this line of reasoning. My father, in particular, likes to lecture on this one. His lectures are usually apropos of nothing--last time, the conversational topic was engineering before he started lecturing.
My guess is that he didn't like the gist of the conversation and wanted to shift it to something he feels more comfortable saying, that gay people are all pedophiles. It appears to be his "go-to" argument winner, along with an appeal to (divine) authority.
His source is Michelle Bachmann and Tea Party rhetoric (as well as church rhetoric, since my family are primarily Southern Baptists.) It's odd to me to see someone so well educated and intelligent, yet unwilling to do a simple analysis of such an obviously flimsy argument.
My father has met one of my girlfriends, since they used the same gym. My family has known about my orientation for some time because I was foolish enough, when I was 18, to confess it--I thought I had a duty to be out to everyone.
Let's just say it didn't go well.
Sometimes I hear someone using a line of reasoning from this class of associated assumptions and it doesn't bother me. I roll my eyes, or I make a face and pay attention to something else. You get calloused hearing it, after awhile, and no one wants to be upset all the time.
I chose to analyze this question in detail to answer it because it's a common kind of assertion with nasty implications. One of the things I do fairly well is logic and argumentation, and in essence I wanted to give other people a firm foundation on which to reject this line of reasoning based on data, as well as on argumentation and ethics.
Now let me tell you why this line of reasoning is crap from an interpersonal standpoint.
Imagine, if you will, being a kid who is gender non-compliant and queer--I'll just go ahead and tell you that some of the nastier things in my childhood had to do with that. Imagine, if you will, also being autistic. This also makes you considerably more likely to experience some sort of child abuse.
Imagine growing up in an environment where your gender, your orientation, your disability, and everything about you was a justification for other people to hurt you.
Imagine growing up and wanting, desperately, to be a good person. Imagine actively liking kids, and agonizing over being a good parent or a good person, and whether or not it was possible for you to be either. Imagine being terrified, as a new parent, that you would somehow be a bad person, or do the things to your children that were done to you.
Imagine hearing that you, based on things about yourself that you cannot help, are not just a bad person, but that you are a part of covering up and defending child abuse. Imagine hearing that you, based on things about yourself that you cannot help, were more likely to abuse your children.
Do you want to know what oppression is like?
If you aren't familiar with it from your own life, it's like everything good about you being invisible--no one knows or cares if you are a good parent, or if you try to be a good person. It doesn't matter that you aid causes that help children or rape victims, or what you've done to help others, or that the idea of being involved in covering up or committing incest makes you dry heave.
The only thing that matters is that you're not straight, so you could be up to anything awful, or evil, or horrifically exploitative.
In fact, the really funny thing is that you don't have to actually have any of those qualities. Whether you've ever done them or not, you'll still be treated like you do. If you belong to a category, whatever someone thinks is true of the category must be true of you, too.
Imagine the same people who remind you that you're a horrible person based on who you are, the same general group from which issues threats, violence, a constant stream of mockery, various kinds of discrimination, and which are extraordinarily more likely to do the things they accuse you of telling you that any sign of resistance on your part means that you are oppressing them.
That's right. If you defend yourself in any way, you're oppressing them and making yourself complicit in an unspeakably evil act.
And yes, I'm characterizing incest as unspeakably evil, for all the reasons I listed above.
It doesn't matter that it's manifestly untrue. It doesn't matter that the data clearly goes the other way, or that 96.2% of your peers experience abuse and/or PTSD symptoms. It doesn't matter that you're in the clear minority, with all the mistreatment that implies, or that you are considerably more likely to experience sexual assault as an LGBT person than heterosexual people (Rothman, Exner and Baughman (2011) "The Prevalence of Sexual Assault Against People who Identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual") or to be the victim of a violent crime which targets you based on your orientation. (SPLC, "Anti-Gay Hate Crimes: Doing the Math").
Fuck the data. People who like this line of reasoning aren't interested in data.
You're queer, or not masculine enough, or not feminine enough, and you deserve whatever you get because of who you are.
I won't talk about despair. I won't talk about that sick feeling you get when you realize that the other person isn't interacting with you at all, they're interacting with a twisted, awful image that justifies anything they feel they can get away with. I won't talk about the defensive rage one gets when they are confronted with the assertion that they, specifically, would enable the kind of behavior they are highly likely to have suffered when they were children.
Instead, I have a question for anyone who would use this line of reasoning.
It's pretty goddamn clear that I know what abuse is and why incest and childhood sexual abuse are wrong.
If you think I can't tell the difference between consent and abuse, how can I know that you can tell the difference?
If you can't tell the difference between an adult, consensual, informed relationship and incest, I'm more than a little worried about you and what you might be up to.See question on Quora