Homosexual people are attracted to the same sex purely sexually and/or emotionally. So if a man is attracted to men, he is homosexual, which for men is also called gay. If, on the other hand, a woman is attracted to other women, she is also homosexual, but the colloquial term varies. In this case, homosexuality is called lesbian. Homo in this case is translated from the ancient Greek and means equal. The term should therefore not be confused with the Latin word of the same name, which means human or man. Today, the composition of the word from two different languages (Greek and Latin) is often regarded as inaccurate and the term has been largely replaced by the term same-sex. This is also not limited to a person's sexuality, but leaves enough room for interpretation for other areas of life. Sexual orientation in general means a person's erotic and emotional preference for members of their own sex and/or for persons of the opposite sex. In addition to homosexuality, there are other sexual orientations, such as heterosexual (opposite-sex) and bisexual (two-sex) orientation.

The boundaries are often blurred and many people cannot commit 100 per cent to one of these orientations. Surveys in Western cultures have found that, on average, two per cent of men and 0.5% of women describe themselves as fully homosexual. The numbers have been rising in recent years and continue to rise as more and more people dare to live out their sexuality openly. Throughout history, same-sex relationships and acts have been both admired and condemned, depending on their form and the culture in which they took place. In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), religious institutions have regarded anal sex between men as a violation of divine law. This has not changed among very religious people even today. In many societies, however, lesbians and gays have found their way into the centre of society in recent decades. Accordingly, numerous gay and lesbian people today live (publicly) in committed same-sex relationships. These relationships are absolutely equivalent to heterosexual relationships in the basic psychological aspects. Since the end of the 20th century, there has been a worldwide movement towards freedom and equality for non-heterosexual people.

The LBGTQ movement (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) advocates, among other things, the introduction of laws for equality in all areas of life. Above all, the equality of same-sex partnerships with marriage and equal rights for same-sex parents in adoptions are important issues of this movement. In the meantime, same-sex marriage has been permitted in 28 countries worldwide. In Germany, lesbian and gay couples have even been allowed to marry since 2017; before that (since 2006), there was only the possibility of a registered partnership. The rainbow flag has been used as a symbol of the LBGTQ movement since the 1970s. In the past, homosexuality was long classified as a disease, the cure for which was always to be achieved with sometimes inhumane methods. Today it is certain that it is not a disease, offers for cures of homosexuality have been banned in Germany since 2020. However, such dubious therapy offers still exist in other countries. A simple, sole cause for sexual orientation has not yet been conclusively proven. Various research papers point to different factors. In general, however, science assumes that a person's sexual orientation is a combination of the interplay of genetic, hormonal and environmental (e.g. social) influences. The biological factors that can be associated with the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual orientation include genes. Furthermore, prenatal hormones and brain structure are probably worth mentioning.

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