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Global divide on homosexuality persists but acceptance has grown over two decades
2020-06-25

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WASHINGTON, D.C. ( June 25, 2020 ) — Despite major changes in laws and norms surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBT people around the world, a new Pew Research Center report finds www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/06/25/global-divide-on-homosexuality-persists/ public opinion on the acceptance of homosexuality in society remains sharply divided by country, region and economic development.

Even with these sharp divides, views are changing in many of the countries that have been surveyed since 2002, when Pew Research Center first began asking the question of whether homosexuality should be accepted by society or not on its international surveys. In many of the countries surveyed in 2002 and 2019, there have been double-digit increases in acceptance of homosexuality, including a 21-point increase in South Africa and 19-point increase in South Korea.

Attitudes on the acceptance of homosexuality are shaped by the country in which people live. Those in Western Europe and the Americas are generally more accepting of homosexuality than are those in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Publics in the Asia-Pacific region generally are split.

In general, people in wealthier and more developed economies are more accepting of homosexuality than are those in less wealthy and developed economies. Across the 34 countries surveyed, a median of 52% agree that homosexuality should be accepted, with 38% saying that it should be discouraged.

In many of the countries surveyed, there also are differences on acceptance of homosexuality by age, education, income and, in some instances, gender, and in several cases, these differences are substantial. In addition, religion and its importance in people's lives shape opinions in many countries — those who are affiliated with a religious group tend to be less accepting of homosexuality than those who are unaffiliated.

Political ideology also plays a role in acceptance of homosexuality. In many of the countries where there are measurements of ideology on a left-right scale, those on the left tend to be more accepting of homosexuality than those on the ideological right. In Europe, people who support right-wing populist parties, many of which are seen by LGBT groups as a threat to their rights, are less supportive of homosexuality in society.

Pew Research Center has been gathering data on acceptance of homosexuality in the United States since 1994, and there has been a relatively steady increase in the share who say that homosexuality should be accepted by society since 2000. Roughly three-quarters of Americans ( 72% ) say homosexuality should be accepted by society, but there is a partisan divide. More than eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents ( 85% ) say homosexuality should be accepted, but only 58% of Republicans and Republican leaners say the same.

These are among the major findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 38,426 people in 34 countries from May 13 to Oct. 2, 2019. The study is a follow-up to a 2013 report www.pewresearch.org/global/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/ that found many of the same patterns as seen today, although there has since been an increase in acceptance of homosexuality across many of the countries surveyed in both years.

Read the report: www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/06/25/global-divide-on-homosexuality-persists/ .

Methodology: www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/06/25/global-views-homosexuality-2019-methodology/ .

Survey topline: www.pewresearch.org/global/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/06/PG_2020.06.25_Global-Views-Homosexuality_TOPLINE.pdf .

For more information, or to arrange an interview with the study's authors, please contact Gar Meng Leong at gleong@pewresearch.org or ( +1 ) 202 419 4354.

Pew Research Center www.pewresearch.org/ is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It does not take policy positions. The Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts www.pewresearch.org/follow-us/ , its primary funder. Subscribe to our daily and weekly email newsletters or follow us on our Fact Tank blog, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/ .

—From a press release


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