Despite wider acceptance and understanding of homosexuality in the UK over the past 50 years, coming out still remains as one of the biggest hurdles that gay and bisexual men face. Whilst friends and family are commonly cited as the source of fear, recent statistics reveal that religious beliefs are proving problematic for many gay men.
More than 5,000 members of the free gay dating website ManCentral.com were asked what they felt was the most problematic for them when coming to terms with their sexual orientation. 12% of openly gay men cited religion as their biggest obstacle, whilst a further 15% of closet men struggled with their religious beliefs.
Of all the religious denominations, Islam and Christianity were found to be the most troublesome for gay an bisexual men. 39% of gay Muslim men said that their religion was their biggest worry, whilst 22% of gay Catholics agreed. Intriguingly, 75% of gay Hindus feared their family rather than their religion, however, this may be a result of the importance of family within Hinduism.
In general, 49% of respondents believed that their family was the biggest obstacle when coming to terms with their sexuality. This was strongly true for 61% of men aged 18-24 however this fell gradually to 30% of men aged 51-60. Arguably, with age men become independent of their families and in turn are less likely to fear the repercussions. Conversely, fear of religion remained relatively constant across the age groups ranging between seven and twelve percent.
Furthermore, 4% of Atheist members, and 9% of Agnostic members claimed that their religion was problematic when coming to terms with their sexuality. Sadly, it would seem that for a portion of the gay and bisexual community, the only resolution to their turmoil is to abandon religion altogether.
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ManCentral.com polled 5,679 members over a three day period. Detailed statistics & breakdowns available on request. Members who answered the surveys remained anonymous to ensure an honest and accurate response.
ManCentral.com was launched in 2008 and has over 140,000 members, primarily from the UK and Ireland. The site allows gay, bisexual and curious men to join, create an online profile and contact other members of the site for free. Users of the site have free access to the forums, chat room, instant messenger and email features.