Gay parents and heterosexual parents – any difference?
A gay Israeli couple, Yonatan and Omer had their baby delivered by a surrogate Indian mother in India…this in a land where homosexuality is a criminal offense. I guess this can only happen in a country like India, a land of contradictions! India has been a destination for gay couples for some time now as not many countries allow gays to hire surrogates, and if they do, it’s expensive.
When it comes to same sex marriage, only six countries allow it – The Netherlands (the first country to allow same-sex marriage in 2001), Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa and Spain, along with two states in the United States: Massachusetts and Connecticut. Here is a map from the wiki which shows the different levels of acceptance of gay marriages across the world:
In India we are still talking about de-criminalising homosexuality, but there are said to be about 2.5 million male homosexuals in India and there are probably an equal number of lesbians. Despite this, people in India do not want to talk about homosexuality or wish to believe that it is not prevalent. Certainly if one goes by most of the popular films and serials, one would feel that it almost invisible. Some people feel that the movie Dostana at least brought it to the forefront of people’s minds, even though the movie had no gay characters.
What the movie in fact made clear was that people do have stereotypes about gays, and when it comes to accepting gay parenting…this subject is surely taboo for our films! Foreign gay couples adopting kids is one thing, our people doing it another. The fears surrounding gay couples bringing up children are huge, and not just in India.
What is the difference between gay parents and heterosexual parents?
When people in India read about Israeli couple, Yonatan and Omer, I wonder what thoughts went through their heads. Were they horrified? Indifferent? Hoped that this would never be allowed in India? Did they think that the child was doomed to a life of gender confusion? Well, there are a lot of misconceptions about homosexuals as parents and here are a few:
- Their children will be confused about their gender role and sexual identity
- The children will themselves become lesbian or gay
- The children will have a tough time socially and have adjustment problems which could lead to behavioral difficulties.
But research since the late fifties has found no reasons to believe that gays make poor parents or that their children turn out to be maladjusted or that their children become homosexual. Sure, there is criticism about these studies. Faults have been found with sampling and methodology, and certainly a lot more research, sampling respondents across all social strata and all communities, needs to be done in this area. However, a report by The American Academy of Pediatrics, a fairly comprehensive review of gay-parenting, has “found no meaningful differences between children raised by gay parents and those raised by heterosexual parents”.
As there is no evidence that children of gay parents become gay (environmental factors), it seems to confirm the notion that being gay is linked to one’s genes in some way, although this is still one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time. No one really knows for sure whether there is a gay gene, although research seems to suggest that there is. Even if there is, social factors are also thought to play a part. However there is no consensus as to which environmental factors influence gay-ness. Some say it is bringing up a child as if she were of the opposite sex, and this has been found true in some cases, but contradicted by others. It does seem that the biological factor needs to be present and then the social factors can trigger the biological.
There are certainly complex factors at work, and the environment also includes one’s-prenatal environment and hormonal factors. Whichever way it goes, the fact is that no one makes a choice to be gay or a heterosexual. He/she is just that way and it doesn’t make him/her worse or better than the other.