There seem to be a common reaction towards finding out a man is gay where people think they should keep an eye on their children. To add at least one quote from a rather inflammatory post:

I believe gays should not be allowed to adopt or serve as foster parents for the simple reason gays have a greater tendency to being pedophiles than straight people.

Has there been research done that examines if homosexual males are notably more sexually drawn towards children than straight ones?

  • 5
    During the high-time of the sexual abuse scandal concerning catholic priests in Germany, I recall that a psychiatrist pointed out that pedophile men are, in general, heterosexual w.r.t. to adults. Trying to find the source for that.
    – Lagerbaer
    Apr 14, 2011 at 20:25
  • 4
    I recall that in a more widespread study as well. I am just hesitant to put this sort of subject into a search engine... Apr 15, 2011 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


Short answer: no.

See this literature:

http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html (has further bibliography)

For the present discussion, the important point is that many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals (in the usual sense of those terms) because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman. Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals – who are often characterized as fixated – are attracted to children, not to men or women.

Using the fixated-regressed distinction, Groth and Birnbaum (1978) studied 175 adult males who were convicted in Massachusetts of sexual assault against a child. None of the men had an exclusively homosexual adult sexual orientation. 83 (47%) were classified as "fixated;" 70 others (40%) were classified as regressed adult heterosexuals; the remaining 22 (13%) were classified as regressed adult bisexuals. Of the last group, Groth and Birnbaum observed that "in their adult relationships they engaged in sex on occasion with men as well as with women. However, in no case did this attraction to men exceed their preference for women....There were no men who were primarily sexually attracted to other adult males..." (p.180).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia#cite_note-Krafft-Ebing-32 (bibliographic entry) http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24766 (Gutenberg version, French language)

(Unfortunately, my French isn't good enough to scan through this quickly).

From the english language edition at http://ia700301.us.archive.org/31/items/psychopathiasex00krafgoog/psychopathiasex00krafgoog_djvu.txt (http://openlibrary.org/works/OL1854462W/Psychopathia_sexualis):

Practically speaking, acts of immorality committed on boys by men sexually inverted are of the greatest rarity.

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    Can you cite some relevant passages from the sources? Then you'll get +1 from me :)
    – Lagerbaer
    Apr 15, 2011 at 3:01
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    The French book you cite is dated 1875 (and is a translation of the 8th German edition).
    – ChrisW
    Mar 7, 2012 at 3:30
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    If a man engages in sex with men, he's homosexual. There is no need to measure to what extent the preference exceeds or does not exceed that for woman. A heterosexual male loathes any form of sexual contact with another male. Anything else is homosexual.
    – Kaz
    Mar 22, 2013 at 23:11
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    @Kaz: that looks like a rather close-minded view. So do you think bisexuals do not exist?
    – nico
    Mar 23, 2013 at 8:20
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    @MarchHo Certainly not. The question is about whether men who have an attraction to men are more or less likely to be paedophiles.
    – Marcin
    Oct 23, 2015 at 12:54

In Adult Sexual Orientation and Attraction to Underage Persons (1978), a random sample was made of 175 males convicted of sexual assault, looking at their adult sexual orientation and the sex of their victims.

The sample divided fairly evenly into two groups based on whether they were sexually fixated exclusively on children or had regressed from peer relationships.

This first group already provides evidence that half of the convicted male sexual assaulters do not come from a simple binary pool of "heterosexuals" or "homosexuals".


All regressed offenders, whether their victims were male or female children were heterosexual in the adult orientation. There were no examples of regression to child victims among peer-oriented, homosexual males.

That is, it is wrong to conclude that if a man sexually assault a boy, then he would normally be attracted to men. There is a good chance he had never been seriously attracted to adults at all, but if he he had, it was adult women he had been attracted to.

The paper suggests:

The possibility emerges that homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia may be mutually exclusive and that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater risk to the underage child than does the adult homosexual male.

I don't completely trust this old sample of convicted males (a subset of a subset) to exclude the chance that any homosexual men are guilty of child sexual assault. However, it becomes clear that a naive Bayesian analysis, that assumes that boys assaulted by men are being assaulted by homosexual men, is going to lead to false conclusions.

The bias doesn't stop there though. A 1996 review mentions another source of bias, which contradicts the claim that "male children are not so well protected as female children"

Current pro-active procedures to identify paedophiles detect those who victimise boys but do not detect the much greater number of paedophiles who victimise girls. Perpetrators are known to the majority of their female and male victims, and those reported are almost all male; most boys do not consider their prepubertal experiences with older women abusive.

In conclusion, it is difficult to get precise figures, due to a number of sources of biases and unknowns. (Even the binary dichotomy of homosexual versus heterosexual is clearly dubious.) However, studying the people who are caught suggests that men who are attracted to adult men are not at all in the highest risk of offending, even when the victims are boys.


There really are not adequate statistics. What information there is tends to be victim-focused which tend need heroic assumptions to draw many conclusions about perpetrators.

For example: this study in San Diego said:

Contact CSA [childhood sexual abuse] was reported by 16% of males and 25% of females. Men reported female perpetration of CSA nearly 40% of the time, and women reported female perpetration of CSA 6% of the time.

Assuming there was no response bias (optimistic but difficult to reject) and that the population of both adults and children are approximately 50:50 male:female (reasonable), then that would suggest that, weighted by victims, roughly 57% of cases were male-on-female, 23% male-on-male, 16% female-on-male, and 4% female-on-female. Those numbers do not look implausible to me, though other studies would undoubtedly produce different proportions.

The next stage is harder. Two further assumptions are needed, neither of which I think are obviously reasonable: the first is that different types of abusers have the same average number of victims; the second is whether it is meaningful to describe those who abuse children as being heterosexual or homosexual, as it may depend on whether you see sexual abuse as being related to sexual attraction or not. If you are prepared to make both those assumptions, then you could draw the conclusion that most child sexual abuse is by male heterosexuals, followed by male homosexuals, but when taking account of their prevalence in the population, a disproportional number of cases come from male homosexuals. Women are less likely to commit child sexual abuse (though they appear more in other non-sexual cases of child abuse and neglect).

There have also been cultural changes, which in the UK date to the early to mid 1980s, where campaigns for gay rights switched emphasis away from seeking abolition of legal ages of consent to seeking equality of ages of consent. This was early in the rise of HIV/AIDS when it became clear that sexual liberation could have unexpected negative consequences, and also when other social liberals made it clear that what appeared to be a fetish for youth on the gay scene was not acceptable social behaviour in wider society. Even by the 1990s there were vestiges of this remaining as seen in the response to a Stonewall concert.


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