Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tolerance Growing...but not Everywhere

A fresh study from the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center shows that the greatest tolerance for and acceptance of LGBT persons and relationships is found in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Of the 31 Western countries studied in depth, tolerance levels have increased significantly over the past decade in 28 of them.  Only Cyprus, Latvia, and Russia saw tolerance drop over the past few years.  Also in Latin American countries, Southern Africa, and Turkey, tolerance levels have remained pretty much the same:  fairly low.  Nevertheless, the growth in approval ratings was stronger than the decline.

In Asia, Singaporeans' acceptance of LGBTs was found to be at 45%, while 40% found homosexuality unacceptable and 15% had a neutral opinion.  That's a very slight improvement over the last poll taken there in 2005.  Muslims and conservative Christians harbor the most intolerance (no big surprise there!), while Buddhists and Freethinkers are the most accepting.

The least tolerant places in the world are, not surprisingly, places with religious extremists either pulling the strings or exerting great influence.  There are still seven countries where the penalty for being in a same-sex relationship is death:  Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia in Africa; and Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran in the Middle East.  There are also dozens of other countries around the world which have varying prison sentences for being in a same-sex relationship, including the Asia-Pacific nations of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysia.  In Singapore, too, sex between men is technically illegal, but the law is not actively enforced any longer. 

ILGA's 2011 world map showing the status of LGBT rights around the world can be viewed here.



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