Homophobia in child custody cases: An experimental study

Pekka Santtila, Kenneth Sandnabba, Wallenborg A-S

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We examined the effects of litigant sexual orientation, litigant gender, child gender and participant level of homophobia on custody decisions. One hundred and fifty-four Swedish law students in their final years of education responded to vignettes describing the litigants and the general circumstances of a child custody case. Vignettes varied regarding litigant sexual orientation, litigant gender and child gender, and were followed by a question concerning which of the litigants ought to be awarded custody, along with scales aimed at measuring the perceived parenting ability of the litigants. As a separate stage, participants responded to a scale measuring homophobia. The results revealed that there was no influence of litigant sexual orientation, child gender or participant level of homophobia on custody decisions, and that the mean level of homophobia of the participants was low, although it was shown that male participants were more homophobic than female participants. The generalisability of the findings to Swedish practitioners of law was discussed. Among other things the participants were of a different generation than the majority of law professionals in the field today.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)135–148
Number of pages14
JournalNordic Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • child custody
  • gay male and lesbian parents
  • homophobia
  • homosexuality
  • judicial bias
  • parenting

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