In Western culture it is mainly done by spouses and romantic couples, as well as parents and small children, where it may be an authoritative control, not affection. However, same-sex couples still suffer from homophobia. In 2012, an average of 74% of gay men and 51% of lesbian women responded EU Fundamental Rights Agency survey, saying they avoid holding hands in public for fear of harassment or assault. These responses varied from 45% to 89% depending on country, with an average of 66%.
In Arab countries, Africa, some parts of Asia, and traditionally in some Mediterranean and Southern European cultures (especially in Sicily) males also hold hands for friendship and as a sign of respect; a custom which is especially noticed by societies unused to it, for instance when, in 2005, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia held hands with the US-American president George W. Bush.
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- DIGNITY HEALTH, huffingtonpost.com, The Science Behind The Profound Power Of Holding Hands, USA, May 31, 2016
- "EU LGBT survey - European Union lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survey - Main results" (pdf). Fundamental Rights Agency. October 2014. p. 87. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- Khaya Dlanga, mg.co.za, Hold hands in friendship - and be proud to be an African, South Africa, December 3, 2014
- Holguin, Jaime (11 February 2009). "Abdullah-Bush Stroll Strikes Nerve". CBS News.