Feb 282015
 

The Global Divide on Homosexuality as conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Greater Acceptance in More Secular and Affluent Countries

Overview

2013-Homosexuality-05As the United States and other countries grapple with the issue of same-sex marriage, a new Pew Research Center survey finds huge variance by region on the broader question of whether homosexuality should be accepted or rejected by society.

The survey of publics in 39 countries finds broad acceptance of homosexuality in North America, the European Union, and much of Latin America, but equally widespread rejection in predominantly Muslim nations and in Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and in Russia. Opinion about the acceptability of homosexuality is divided in Israel, Poland and Bolivia.

Attitudes about homosexuality have been fairly stable in recent years, except in South Korea, the United States and Canada, where the percentage saying homosexuality should be accepted by society has grown by at least ten percentage points since 2007. These are among the key findings of a new survey by the Pew Research Center conducted in 39 countries among 37,653 respondents from March 2 to May 1, 2013.1

The survey also finds that acceptance of homosexuality is particularly widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also among the richest countries in the world. In contrast, in poorer countries with high levels of religiosity, few believe homosexuality should be accepted by society.

Age is also a factor in several countries, with younger respondents offering far more tolerant views than older ones. And while gender differences are not prevalent, in those countries where they are, women are consistently more accepting of homosexuality than men.

Where Homosexuality Is Most Accepted

2013-Homosexuality-04The view that homosexuality should be accepted by society is prevalent in most of the European Union countries surveyed. About three-quarters or more in Spain (88%), Germany (87%), the Czech Republic (80%), France (77%), Britain (76%), and Italy (74%) share this view, as do more than half in Greece (53%). Poland is the only EU country surveyed where views are mixed; 42% say homosexuality should be accepted by society and 46% believe it should be rejected.

Canadians, who already expressed tolerant views in 2007, are now even more likely to say homosexuality should be accepted by society; 80% say this, compared with 70% six years ago. Views are not as positive in the U.S., where a smaller majority (60%) believes homosexuality should be accepted. But Americans are far more tolerant today than they were in 2007, when 49% said homosexuality should be accepted by society and 41% said it should be rejected.

Opinions about homosexuality are also positive in parts of Latin America. In Argentina, the first country in the region to legalize gay marriage in 2010, about three-quarters (74%) say homosexuality should be accepted, as do clear majorities in Chile (68%), Mexico (61%) and Brazil (60%); about half of Venezuelans (51%) also express acceptance. In contrast, 62% of Salvadorans say homosexuality should be rejected by society, as do nearly half in Bolivia (49%).

In the Asia/Pacific region, where views of homosexuality are mostly negative, more than seven-in-ten in Australia (79%) and the Philippines (73%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society; 54% in Japan agree.

Where Homosexuality Is Rejected

Publics in Africa and in predominantly Muslim countries remain among the least accepting of homosexuality. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least nine-in-ten in Nigeria (98%), Senegal (96%), Ghana (96%), Uganda (96%) and Kenya (90%) believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Even in South Africa where, unlike in many other African countries, homosexual acts are legal and discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional, 61% say homosexuality should not be accepted by society, while just 32% say it should be accepted.

Overwhelming majorities in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed also say homosexuality should be rejected, including 97% in Jordan, 95% in Egypt, 94% in Tunisia, 93% in the Palestinian territories, 93% in Indonesia, 87% in Pakistan, 86% in Malaysia, 80% in Lebanon and 78% in Turkey.

Elsewhere, majorities in South Korea (59%) and China (57%) also say homosexuality should not be accepted by society; 39% and 21%, respectively, say it should be accepted. South Korean views, while still negative, have shifted considerably since 2007, when 77% said homosexuality should be rejected and 18% said it should be accepted by society.

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