It appears to me that opposition to marriage equality comes primarily from religious groups, in particular from the Abrahamic religions. Quoting Wikipedia:

Many forms of religions, including the Eastern faiths and Abrahamic faiths, do not support homosexual sex. Evangelical Christianity,[10] Catholicism,[11] Mormonism,[12] Orthodox Judaism,[13] and Islam,[14] hold the view that homosexual sex is a sin and that its practice and acceptance in society weakens moral standards and undermines the family.

The Wikipedia article doesn't expand much on non-religious opposition to same-sex marriage. It appears most countries with strong anti-LGBT laws are countries with a dominant Muslim or Christian population (red shades on this map from Wikipedia), although attitudes within religion-dominated countries differ significantly (primarily catholic Spain has legalised gay marriage and 82% believes LGBT should be accepted, but in majority Hindu India this figure is only 10%). On the legal side:

world homosexuality laws

Apart from arguments originating from the (Abrahamanic) old testament, what sources exist for opposition to marriage equality?

  1. First of all, in practice, the answer is 100% yes, since there existed numerous strong examples of either atheist, or non-Abrahamic religious societies antagonistic to homosexuals.

    • USSR was 100% atheistic. LGBT in USSR starting with Stalin was punished significantly more harshly than in the evil-anti-gay-theocracy-USA (even at the beginning of the century, before gay rights movements in US). No gay in USA was ever sent to labor camps (nor, as far as I know, been convicted to lengthy prison sentence), both of which was the norm in USSR.

    • Both Mayans and ancient Greeks were not very positive about homosexual relations outside pederasty - e.g., penetration of an older male was NOT positively viewed. Same was true for the Norse. Same with Ancient Egypt.

    • Aztecs were not very good to homosexuals, especially bottoms (evidence from Bernal Diaz, we don't really have much good primary sources on Mexica Empire sadly).

    • In North Korea, marriage is only between a man and a woman, and homosexuality isn't very well thought of (though AFAIK not directly criminalized).

    • In India, strongly religious people/authorities oppose same sex marriage (src)

    • Jainism is a lot more liberal on LGBT attitudes, but definitely NOT what you'd call "equality", and the views espoused in it would get any conservative in USA labeled as "homophobic bigot". (src)

    • Zoroastrianism has a negative view (src)

    • Nazi Germany put gays in concentration camps. This may be argued to being an artifact of German Christian values, so let's call it a "maybe", unlike the previous ones.

    • Zimbabwe's Mugabe explicitly claimed that original inhabitants of the country (before Abrahamic religions) didn't practice homosexuality. I won't take that as scientific evidence, but worth noting if you are careful to be skeptical.

  2. As far as non-religious arguments against "LGBT rights" in general (NON-marriage):

    • A LOT of the arguments stem from the social/cultural view that a proper adult man should not be receiving sexual penetration (see the list of non-Abrahamic countries above). This is especially proven in cases where pederasty was considered proper.

    • Some of the modern arguments in socialist dictatorships were based on the fact that homosexuality is "western/capitalist deviancy" (which is big news to all the Marxist/Gramscian leftist LGBT rights activists in Western countries). See North Korea, or USSR (USSR was slightly more complicated, but North Korea it's open and shut case of this attitude).

  3. Non-religious arguments against "LGBT rights" groups (NON-marriage-related):

    Please note that some of the arguments are more about "for negative view of LGBT rights activism" and less about "arguments against LGBT rights" per se. In other words, someone may oppose groups/actions of rights activists, yet outside of that opposition, personally thinks that gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against and does not discriminate against them, at least outside of marriage stuff.

    • Some people of right/libertarian orientation in the west dislike LGBT activists specifically for their super-strong Marxist/Gramscian and statist/big-government leanings (or for some right wingers, for anti-traditionalist and anti-American views that have nothing to do with homosexuality). This is evidenced by popularity of "Conservative Lesbian" blog (note: she was an official blogger for CPAC'2010, sponsored by redstate.com, and a personal friend of Andrew Breitbart. Not exactly a non-entity on the right, in other words), and good opinions of GOProud.

    As a 2018 update, this is extremely well evidenced by extreme popularity on the right/libertarian side of openly homosexual libertarian Dave Rubin (who mentions "his husband" and his sexual orientation on nearly every podcast I heard), or alt-right figure Milo Yannopolis (sp?). Basically, an extremely large chunk of modern US right wing doesn't care who or what you do in the bedroom, as long as you hold political positions/views they agree with.

    This is especially prevalent on libertarian side, where people in general tend to have absolutely no anti-LGBT beef on "moral" grounds.

    • Some arguments are based on general dislike for open and flaunted sexuality (which LGBTs tend to be reputed to have, whether accurately or not isn't very relevant). This seems to be the case around China, where many attitudes are less about "homosexuality bad" as in "dial down sexual display, all'y'all" - see Confucianism section of Wiki article about religions and homosexuality linked above.

      This is important since it's also a basis of dislike by some people in Western societies - I am personally aware of many people whose attitude is "I don't care who someone has sex with, but I don't want them sticking their sexuality in my face, gay or straight" - such people tend to view Gay Pride parades in San Francisco with just as much distaste as Mardi Gras or Rio Carnivals. Again, in this case the special LGBT dislike is more about (true or false, doesn't matter) perceived tendency by LGBT crowd - at least in the West - to flaunt their sexuality more than straights, and not to the homosexuality itself. Such people would very happily be friends/coworkers with someone who is gay in private.

      Please note that this one doesn't strictly speaking belong on this list at all - people holding this view tend to completely lose their interest in someone's sex orientation as far as all normal rights are concerned. They EQUALLY don't want to know that you're gay, OR that you're straight, especially around their kids.

    • Related to the last point, some people strongly oppose to homosexuality being taught about in school to young kids. NOT because it's homosexuality, but because sexuality is being taught in the first place (I'm talking 6 year olds here). A lot of them - again may be rightly or wrongly - see that as a result of LGBT pushing.

  4. Opposition to same sex marriage, independent of child rearing.

    • First, tons of libertarians are against ANY marriage recognition/special treatment by the state, unless it relates to child rearing. Same sex or hetero sex.

    • Second, some people view the drive to legalize gay marriage as an assault on "traditional" cultural values. In other words, they are perfectly fine with same sex civil unions, but not with calling them "marriage", thereby redefining what "marriage" always meant (yes, many of them come at it from Christian religious background, but not all).

      Incidentally, many of them are from the same set of people who oppose LGBT activists as left wing actors. In other words, they view the drive for same sex marriage as less of "for the equality" and more for "let's stick it to those right winger traditions", and react defensively based on that perception (again, the proof is in the pudding. Many of them are a lot more receptive/less resistant to the same ideas coming out of GOProud and such).

      Another large factor here is simply the fact that same sex marriage was a branding topic - it simply evolved as a point of contention between conservatives and progressives, and polarized to the point where people would espouse views on the topic merely because their tribe's prevailing views were so (this is clearly evidenced by research done by social psychologists, who managed to convince people to switch LGBTQ viewpoints after in-person interviews - abstractly held political bumper sticker talking point doesn't always survive contact with real live human beings).

  5. Opposition to same sex marriage as a vehicle of child rearing.

    • This is different than general LGBT rights. One of the arguments that are very specific to child rearing in marriage is a concern that on average, children NOT raised by a male and female parent are not being provided with a correct upbringing. (very very simplified version of one such argument would be that a girl raised by women would never learn to relate to men correctly relationship-wise; same with a boy raised without a woman. Similar concerns about a girl being raised without a woman figure in a family of 2 fathers, or a boy with only women parents - they lack a proper figure for emulation).

    • A separate version of this argument is conservative/evolutionary-psychology type. Basically, if children being raised in a same sex couple household would NOT somehow be a long term problem, then nearly-100%-heterosexual-family-model-acceptance would not have evolved. They don't know for sure WHAT the problem may be, but they view the fact that almost every single culture on Earth didn't have same sex child rearing as proof that there is SOME problem, from evolutionary perspective.

  6. Opposition to the claim that "marriage equality" includes same-sex marriage.

    Having re-read the question, I noticed that it was phrased in a leading way that is rejected by many opponents of same-sex marriage - they specifically reject the claim that "marriage equality" includes same-sex marriage; and that refusal to recognize same-sex marriage constitutes "unequal treatment". Obviously, this is no longer a view shared by US SCOTUS, but nevertheless, a lot of people object based on this line of reasoning. The general arguments go as follows:

    1. Homosexuals are not being denied the right to marry in general. Merely the right to marry specific subset of people. They very specifically can marry anyone of opposite sex; thus have same rights heterosexuals do.

    2. The concept of restricting a set of people one can marry DOES exist in the law: you cannot marry a close relative, you cannot marry more than one person, you cannot marry someone underage, you cannot marry someone not alive/not human, etc... Therefore, US law does NOT recognize universal right to marry anyone you like. The only meaningful legal difference seems to be that homosexuals have far more political power and influence than poly-amorous people or those wishing to marry their sibling/parent.

      (which is where we circle back to above-mentioned libertarian notion that the state shouldn't even be in the business of recognizing or not marriages).

Please note that I'm listing the arguments as they exist - whether any of them are valid or not is irrelevant to the question. If you care about its correctness, ask on Skeptics.SE :)

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    My question was ambiguous. I asked "Are there any non-religious arguments", to which the question appears to be yes, but (perhaps obviously) I'm interested in what those arguments are. Pointing out that gays were and are not viewed nicely in the former Soviet Union and North Korea does not answer why they weren't. Oh, and by the way: East Germany legalised homosexuality before West Germany, in Czechoslovakia before Austria, in Bulgaria before Finland. Also, USSR initially legalised homosexuality in 1917, long before many other countries, but it went wrong (as for other things) with Stalin. – gerrit Feb 25 '13 at 21:49
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    Very extensive answer! Not sure if you're still working on it, but the bullet numbers #2–#5 could use some sources. I'll probably head over to History.SE for a question about gay persecution in the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1930. – gerrit Feb 25 '13 at 23:03
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    In response to your lists 1) those aren't listing reasons. 3) Those are indirect reasons, at best. 4) 'traditional values' is a term used to specifically pander to the religious right. In general, a thorough answer, but tends to actually not show many valid DIRECT arguments against it outside of religious mindsets. – user1530 Mar 4 '13 at 7:35
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    @user4012 - This is a good answer, but the jabs at left-leaning people detract from it, in my opinion. For example, “which is big news to all the Marxist/leftist LGBT rights superbrains in Western countries.” Not everyone in favor of gay rights is left-wing (as I am sure you know, judging from your answer), not everyone who’s left-wing is Marxist, and not everyone who’s a Marxist fails to recognize the Soviet attitude to LBGT people. In point of fact, most of the Marxists I’ve talked to seem to view the Soviet Union as a abject failure to implement Marxist principles (true or not). – Obie 2.0 Jul 15 '17 at 21:24
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    @Obie2.0 - unfortunately, a vast majority of gay rights people in US tend to Gramscian worldview (which is my beef with them) - whether they themselves realize it's Marxism under the covers or not. Of course not everyone is, and I'd be happy as a clam if it was a small minority instead of majority, but that just isn't the case – user4012 Jul 15 '17 at 23:30

Arguments against homosexuality

There are four main arguments against homosexuality.

  • Homosexuality catalyzes spread of HIV and other sexual deceases. It was cited for example as one of the main reasons why homosexualism was prohibited in the late USSR. There are two reasons why it is so

    • Homosexual acts usually involve anal penetration, which involves more tension and the rectum skin less prone to mechanical damage. This often leads to micro abrasions through which the infection can pass. This is especially important for HIV.

    • Heterosexual contacts employ various natural protection mechanisms which homosexual intercourse lacks. One of them is that the medium in male and female sexual organs have opposite properties: the medium in vagina is acidic while the medium in penis is alkaline. This makes it difficult for infection adapted for male organs to invade female ones and vice versa.

  • Homosexuality leads to depopulation of the host nation and degradation of culture. This argument is often used by various nationalists, racists and racialists and also by Men's Rights movements. It was also expressed by Putin when he spoke about new Russian law against homosexual propaganda. The main idea behind this is that homosexuality is the most widespread among the segments of the population in which the instincts are the less prominent (such people are called "low-primative" following Protopopov and Novoselov). But at the same time, the low-primative people constitute the core of civilization, being the drivers of science and scientific progress. Homosexuality limits the spread of low-primative genes leading to the rise of the primativity of the population. Less primative ethnicieties are replaced with more primative, the intellectual elites are replaced with the social bottoms (whose activity is determined by the instincts and as such they are not involved in homosexuality).

    This, accompanied with other feminist innovations targeting low-primative men such as unbearable financial sanctions imposed on financially successful men for having many children, destruction of the marriage, harassment laws etc leads to the cease of reproduction of the intellectual elite, destruction of culture and eventually collapse of the nation.

  • Homosexuality increases sexual disbalance. In any society there is excess of sexually active men on the sexual market compared to sexually active women. This has multiple causes

    • The duration through which an average man and average woman participate in the sexual market is about twice greater for men. Men usually participate in sexual market from the age of 15 to 75. Women usually participate from 13 to 35.

    • After bearing children or marriage many women leave sexual market while men are less likely to do so.

    • Positive polygamy coefficient for men and negative for women. A man usually wants and strives for more than one sexual partner while women express "crowd effect": they usually want a man who already successful among women, so many women attach to a single sexual partner with no interest in other men. In a result, small percent of men has large percent of available women leaving the majority of men unsatisfied.

    This all leads to the rise of the prices which men pay for sexual services. Homosexuality worsens the situation. With equal number of gays and lesbians, the share of women available on sexual market decreases in higher proportion compared to men. This, further exemplified with other feminist measures such as the increase of age of consent, creates huge deficit of women on the sexual market and huge amounts of sexually unsatisfied men. This in turn leads to social tensions, rise of rapes and other crimes and political extremism.

  • Homosexual propaganda may affect one's children. Some people while not objecting private homosexual acts would be strongly opposed to public expression of homosexual love, as well as any "equal-rights" measures, because this may agitate their children into homosexuality. This may be viewed highly undesirable because of the following reasons among others:

    • It is evolutionary advantageous for all people to spread their genetic material as widely as possible. This is one of the reasons why people bear children and ensure their safety. If the kids are involved in homosexuality, this may stop the spread of the genes and discontinue the family.

    • In some cultures passive homosexuality is seen as very shameful and the people are stigmatized. For instance, in Russian criminal community according their informal code of conduct "Poneatia" passive homosexuals are singled as untouchable. Knowing this a parent may be afraid that this may heavily complicate the life of their children not only in case they imprisoned but also in the real life.

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    Do you have a cite for "Men's Rights" movements having ANY opinions on homosexuality, never mind advancing "Homosexuality leads to depopulation of the host nation" argument? [ be careful not to confuse men's rights movement and someone who may write about men's rights among other things, but holds fundamentalist Christian views on all things and thus is anti-homosexuality totally independently of men's rights ] – user4012 Feb 26 '13 at 14:40
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    Also, "increases sexual disbalance" seems to ONLY work for opposition to lesbians, and should strongly encourage male homosexuality. – user4012 Feb 26 '13 at 15:05
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    @DVK yes, but only if only male homosexuality is encouraged which is not usually the case. In Russia male homosexuality is considered shame while female homosexuality is encouraged. Many clubs have prohibited expressions of gay love while encourage expressions of lesbianism. – Anixx Feb 27 '13 at 2:21
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    Frankly, this looks like the answer that most directly addresses the OP's question. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Sep 27 '13 at 18:54
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    This answer is very good, but it would be even better if it had sources. – tempusfugit Oct 2 '14 at 19:15

One secular argument against government recognition of gay marriage is that the reason governments recognize marriage and provide benefits to married couples is to encourage the creation of stable environments for procreation in which paternity can be assumed and thus the raising of children will be done by two parents (one of each sex which studies show is better for children than two parents of the same sex) both of whom have a strong interest in good parenting due to biology. Since gay marriage does not encourage the creation of such environments, why should the government recognize it and provide benefits to gay couples?

Another secular "argument" (not sure if I should call it that) I've heard often is that homosexuality is gross, disgusting, icky, etc. Many people seem to confuse what they dislike with what should be illegal.


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