In an interview with a rabidly right wing website, American Cardinal Raymond Burke1 has called gay people “evil”2.
In this interview, Burke was asked by an Australian couple, how they should respond to their son bringing his male partner to Christmas dinner. He said that such a situation should be handled carefully given “the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda”. What this agenda was, he didn’t elaborate. He also said that gay family members in what he called “a disordered relationship” should be excluded from gatherings where there could be “impressionable children”2.
One gets the impression from this that he seems to think gay people are somehow a threat to children. Although he doesn’t state there is a likelihood of molestation, it is suspected that he thinks they will succumb to the ‘homosexual agenda’ and perhaps will ‘turn’.
Among the bigoted right, there is a conflation of homosexuality with paedophilia, which is not borne out by research. In fact Freund et al. (1989) determined that “homosexual males who preferred mature partners responded no more to male children than heterosexual males who preferred mature partners responded to female children”3. Indeed, in a thorough review of published papers, it was shown that “empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so.” In addition, many child molesters cannot be characterised as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.”4
What proportion of the male population are likely to be paedophiles? This is difficult to gauge; it was initially thought to be as high as 5%, but this has been revised downwards based on more data and better methodology to about 1%-2%, depending on how you define a paedophile. However, if you define a paedophile as someone attracted to pre-pubescent children, then the prevalence among the populace is likely much less than 1%5.
The Australian Catholic Church has released ‘grim’ data revealing that 7% of priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2009 have been accused of sex crimes. The worst offenders have been shown to be the orders of brothers, who often run schools for the most vulnerable of children. Similar research has been carried out in the United States, and it found that 5.6% of the 116,153 priests who worked there between 1950 and June 2015 had been accused of child sexual abuse.
So, you would be perhaps seven times more likely to place your children at risk if you invited a priest for Christmas dinner rather than your gay friend.
- Freund, K., Watson, R. & Rienzo, D., 1989. Heterosexuality, homosexuality and erotic age preference. Journal of Sex Research 26, 107-117.