Global Increase in Acceptance of Homosexuality

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014 - Updated: Friday 12th December 2014
Summary: Survey involved asking questions about attitudes regarding lesbians and gay men in 10 to 52 countries.

Residents in ninety percent of all surveyed countries have become more accepting of homosexuality over the past 20 years, according to a study released by NORC at the University of Chicago and the Williams Institute. The study, which examines the responses to 2000 survey questions asked in hundreds of surveys between 1981 and the present, was released in Washington, D.C. today at a meeting about LGBT rights, global stigma and economic growth. Each survey involved asking questions about attitudes regarding lesbians and gay men in 10 to 52 countries.

"Available research on global public acceptance of lesbians and gay men is limited," said Andrew Park, Director of International Programs at the Williams Institute. "This study shows a clear trend toward increasing acceptance across the globe."

Key findings include:

Women are on average more than one and a half times more likely to be accepting of lesbian and gay people than men.

In 98% of the countries, those under 30 are more likely to say that same-gender sex is not wrong at all, compared to those aged 65 and older. The average gap in supportiveness between these age groups is 23.4%. The study indicates that people remain supportive as they grow older.

In Latin America, acceptance of homosexuality ranges from a high of 34% in Uruguay to a low of 2% in Ecuador.

On the legal recognition for marriages for same-sex couples, Uruguay has the highest level of support at 57% while Guatemala has the lowest level of support at 12%.

In Africa, acceptance of homosexuality ranges from a high of 38 % in South Africa to a low of 2% in Ghana. However, most countries in Africa are ranked in the bottom third of all countries in the world in their level of acceptance of lesbian and gay people.

91% of European countries have become more accepting over the past 20 years.

The most accepting are those in Northern Europe while those in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States have the lowest levels of acceptance. The level of acceptance across all surveyed countries has increased an average of 0.9 percentage points per year.

Countries in Northwestern Europe are the most accepting, followed by the following clusters of countries:

Australia/Canada/New Zealand/United States, Southern European countries, Latin American countries, former Soviet Union/Eastern & Central Europe, Asian countries, African countries, and majority Muslim countries

The study, "Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights across Time and Countries," is authored by Tom W. Smith, NORC at the University of Chicago; Jaesok Son, NORC at the University of Chicago; and Jibum Kim, Sungkyunkwan University; Seoul Korea.

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