A survey released Tuesday shows a world sharply divided over the acceptance of gays, with countries in Africa and the Middle East strongly opposed while tolerance grows in Europe, Canada, the United States and parts of Latin America.
The Pew Research Center survey revealed that people in predominately Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and Pakistan, as well as Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelmingly reject gay men and lesbians from society at large.
Meanwhile, acceptance of homosexuality continues to grow in North America and most of Europe, according to the survey, which polled some 38,000 people in 39 countries.
Other nations, such as Poland, Israel, and Bolivia, were split.
In its summary of the findings, Pew said acceptance of homosexuality is much more widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also some of the richest countries in the world.
In contrast, poorer nations with a high degree of religiosity usually have strong opposition to the acceptance of gays and lesbians by society.
And while increased tolerance can be seen in the legalization of same-sex marriage in some 13 countries across the globe, including Argentina, France, and South Africa, as well as parts of the United States and Mexico, it’s also obvious that entrenched opposition remains in much of the world.
In Nigeria, sodomy is punishable by jail, and a law was recently passed that criminalizes gay marriage, same-sex relationships, and even membership in a gay rights group.
The survey showed age and gender to be important factors in respondents’ attitudes, with women and younger adults being more tolerant of homosexuality.
In Japan, for example, 83 percent of those under age 30 said they accepted gays compared to just 40 percent of those 50 and older.
The poll was conducted between March and May, and has a margin of error of between plus-or-minus 3.1 – 7.7 percentage points.