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Pew: Globally, nations split on homosexuality

WASHINGTON (BP) — Americans are divided over the issue of homosexuality, and the world is too, according to a new Pew study that examines attitudes about same-sex behavior in 39 countries.

Majorities of adults in the United States, Canada, most of Europe and Latin America say society should accept homosexuality, while majorities of adults in African countries, the Middle East, Russia and much of Asia say it should not. The report was based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with 37,653 respondents.

In the United States, adults say by a margin of 60-33 percent that society should accept homosexuality, while in Canada it is 80-14 percent. Those two are among the three countries that have seen support for homosexuality grow by double digits since 2007, when 49 percent of those in the U.S. (11-point difference) and 70 percent in Canada (10-point difference) expressed positive attitudes about homosexuality.

For most of the world, attitudes about homosexuality have been relatively stable since 2007.

Following is a look at the 39 countries, by region:

— In Europe, majorities in Spain (88 percent), Germany (87), the Czech Republic (80), France (77), Britain (76), Italy (74) and Greece (53) say homosexuality should be accepted. By contrast, a majority or plurality in Poland (46) and Russia (74) say homosexuality should be rejected.

— In the Middle East, homosexuality is widely rejected, with majorities in Jordan (97), Egypt (95), Tunisia (94), Palestinian Territory (93), Lebanon (80) and Turkey (78) saying society should not accept homosexuality. In Israel, by a 47-40 percent margin, most adults say society should not accept homosexuality.

— Asia is somewhat divided, with five of the countries surveyed saying homosexuality should not be accepted and three countries saying otherwise. A majority of adults in Indonesia (93), Pakistan (87), Malaysia (86), South Korea (59) and China (57) say homosexuality should be rejected. South Koreans, though, have seen a world-leading 21-point increase in their acceptance of homosexuality since 2007 (climbing from 18 to 39 percent). Majorities in Australia (79), the Philippines (73) and Japan (54) say society should accept it.

— Most Latin American countries surveyed say homosexuality should be accepted, led by Argentina (74), Chile (68), Mexico (61), Brazil (60) and Venezuela (51). The two Latin American countries that reject homosexuality are El Salvador (62) and Bolivia (a plurality of 49 percent).

— All six African countries surveyed say society should not accept homosexuality: Nigeria (98), Uganda (96), Ghana (96), Senegal (96), Kenya (90) and South Africa (61).

With only a few exceptions, the importance of religion in a country plays a role in whether homosexuality is accepted, Pew found.

“There is far less acceptance of homosexuality in countries where religion is central to people’s lives — measured by whether they consider religion to be very important, whether they believe it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral, and whether they pray at least once a day,” the Pew report said.

There are two notable exceptions to the religiosity correlation. Russia and China receive low scores on the religiosity scale but nevertheless reject homosexuality.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Michael Foust