Religion poisons everything? Greater acceptance of homosexuality in more secular countries

Across the world attitudes towards homosexuality roughly correlate to how wealthy and secular a country is, according to Pew Research's Global Attitudes Project.

Across the world attitudes towards homosexuality roughly correlate to how wealthy and secular a country is, according to Pew Research’s Global Attitudes Project.

Homosexuality is largely accepted in North America, the European Union and much of Latin America, but widely rejected in predominantly Muslim nations and Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and Russia, according to a survey of 39 countries.

Spain was the most progressive European nation, with 88 per cent of those surveyed accepting homosexuality, followed by Germany with 87 per cent. Britain was fifth with 76 per cent accepting homosexuality.

In Muslim nations and Africa large majorities still reject homosexuality, including 97 per cent in Jordan, 95 per cent in Egypt, 94 per cent in Tunisia, 93 per cent in the Palestinian territories, 93 per cent in Indonesia, 87 per cent in Pakistan, 86 per cent in Malaysia, 80 per cent in Lebanon and 78 per cent in Turkey.

Globally attitudes towards homosexuality have remained reasonably stable in recent years, except in South Korea, the United States and Canada, where the percentage saying homosexuality should be accepted has grown by at least ten percentage points since 2007.

In countries where religion is more central to people’s lives homosexuality is less accepted, with the exception of Russia and China, where majorities still rejected homosexuality despite low levels of religiosity.

Attitudes to homosexuality were relatively evenly split between the genders, with women tending to be more accepting where there was a difference. Younger people were almost universally more tolerant of homosexuality around the world – although in Britain those aged 30 to 49 were more accepting than those aged 18 to 29.


Homosexuality and religion

Homosexuality age

Gender gap homosexuality

The survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted in 39 countries among 37,653 respondents from March 2 to May 1, 2013. Results for India were not reported due to concerns about the survey’s administration in the field.

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8 Responses to “Religion poisons everything? Greater acceptance of homosexuality in more secular countries”

  1. Matthew

    Surely a better graph would somehow factor the size of each respective countries into the results? China and Russia aren’t just small anomalies here. Collectively, they account for over 3,000,000,000 people.

    Yours sincerely, a disgruntled Christian supporter of Gay rights.

  2. David Thompson

    China is 1.35 billion and Russia is 143 million. Its 1.18 billion combined, 1.82 billion shy of 3 billion.

  3. William McIlhagga

    If you look at that graph, everyone conforms apart from four outliers: China, Russia, the Philippines, and Brazil. I think the reason that the first two stand out is that they have a kind of “secular religion” going there – there is no god, but there are certainly godlike figures in their societies. Basically, these are just intolerant societies.

    Anyone with theories about how the Philippines and Brazil manage religion and tolerance would be interesting.

  4. Matthew

    I was sure I wrote below this that I had meant to factor into the given figure Brazil and the Philippines. I’m not sure why it hasn’t shown up :/

  5. Matthew

    To use the term religion so loosely kind of defeats the point of the graph though.

    Don’t get me wrong, religion does play a massive role in many people’s lives in their ethical formation. I just think it’s a bit of a cop-out to call any other secular political system than liberal secular democracies “religious”.

    This graph shows something a bit more complex than that, especially when the sheer combined size of the so called “anomalies” is taken into account.

  6. David Thompson

    I sure don’t see the US as being a tolerant nation. We are the most scared, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic democracies on the planet. Anything that is not Christian bible thumpin’ is a perceived threat to the way of life. It’s god and country and like it or leave. What would Jesus Do. Even though the Christians act nothing like Jesus or what he would do. Actually reading and understanding the bible isn’t important. Being a committed believer is all that matters.

  7. Just a Traveller

    Like has been said is this study is incomplete, because is try to compare religions, and not the all cultural aspect. For exemple is funny the gap in the ages on Japan and S.Korea. This study should be done whit cultures and not just religions…

  8. taizegoose

    Some religious leaders recognise and affirm that sexual orientation includes same sex orientation. We recognise and affirm that the created order is inclusive of opposite and same sex oriented persons.

    Not all religion is poisonous; not all religious people are poisonous.

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