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 to an 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 United States 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.