April 26, 2016

Does education make a difference in attitude towards homosexuality in Armenia?

By Mane Adamyan
CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

Theoretically, the aim of the education is not only to provide people with basic knowledge and technical skills in a particular sphere but also to shape their worldview and critical thinking. During their education, individuals are introduced to lifestyles and new ideas, interact with their peers and get acquainted with nonconformity which gradually becomes natural. Prior empirical work (Ohlanderet al., 2005; Lambertet al., 2006; Treas,2002, Loftus,2001) evidenced a positive correlation between education and tolerance towards sexual minorities. However, the case of Armenia is understudied in the literature.
Stemming from the above-mentioned  discussion, this blog post aims at revealing the relationship between education and attitude towards homosexuality in the Republic of Armenia.  

The question below measures the tolerance towards homosexuality:

 “To what extent do you agree with the following statements?”[1]

  1.       Male homosexuality is a perversion.
  2.       Female homosexuality is a perversion.
Since the gender of the respondent may bias the perception of different types of homosexuality (e.g., male respondent may be more tolerant towards female homosexuals than male homosexuals), the above-mentioned question is split into sub-questions to account for that phenomenon.

As depicted in Chart 1, Armenian public has highly negative views towards gays and lesbians. Only 6% of the respondents disagree that male homosexuality is a perversion. Similarly, only 4% of the respondents believe that women should not be “condemned” for their sexual orientation.

Chart 1
Note: The answer options for the statements “Male homosexuality is a perversion” and “Female homosexuality is a perversion” were grouped as follows: “Strongly disagree” and “Somewhat disagree” were grouped into “Disagree” while “Strongly agree” and “Somewhat agree” were grouped into “Agree”. 

Regarding the education profile of the respondents, out of 977 only 333 have higher education, 597 completed secondary education, 40 have only primary education and 7 respondents are students, applicants or pupils. 

Chart 2
Note: The answer options for the question, “Education” were grouped as follows: options “Illiterate”, “Primary education” and “Basic education” were recoded into “Primary education”. Options “Secondary education”, “Vocational education” and “Secondary technical education” were recoded into “Secondary education”.  Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Higher education” and “Postgraduate” were recoded into “Higher education”.

Chart 3 illustrates the results of the cross-tabulation analysis. It shows that 85% of the highly educated individuals who participated in the survey express negative attitude towards female homosexuality. In case of respondents with secondary education this statistics primes to 96%. The attitude towards male homosexuality is similar to that of female homosexuality. In particular, 81% of the respondents with higher education express negative attitude towards male homosexuals. For respondents with secondary education this result increases to 94%.

Chart 3

In sum, we evidence almost no effect of education on positive attitude towards sexual minorities in the Republic of Armenia. The explanation for this phenomenon can be fewfold. First, Armenian society is highly religious. In particular, more than 80% of the respondents accept to be religious according to the Caucasus Barometer (2015)[2]. Second, given the traditional nature of the Armenian society, family is considered as a supreme value, which may undermine the effect of education on respondents’ attitudes towards sexual minorities.

[1] Social Attitudes towards LGBTI people in Armenia”, [2015]. “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO in Armenia, in cooperation with Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group NGO from Georgia, within the frames of the project “Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia” financed by Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, are carrying out a comprehensive study of social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including a survey carried out by CRRC-Armenia. The results of this research will be presented in July, 2016.
[2] Caucasus Barometer is a nationwide household survey with over 6,800 respondents across the South Caucasus. It runs annually in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia based on the same methodological approach and the same survey instrument.

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