In the United States, the general population has been growing accustomed to realizing that Catholics are strongly supportive of LGBT justice and equality. Poll after poll keeps showing that Catholics lead all Christian denominations in their support for issues like marriage equality.
Therefore, it should come as little surprise to find out that, according to a new survey of 39 nations by the Pew Research Center, when one looks at the global picture of LGBT acceptance, one finds that traditionally Catholic countries stand out as far more accepting than other nations. What’s more, the United States is not the leader in global acceptance of LGBT people.
A Washington Post news article highlighted some of the relevant statistics along these lines:
“The broadest acceptance was found in countries where religion is not central to life, such as Canada (80 percent), France (77 percent) and Australia (79 percent). Yet the poll also found high levels of tolerance toward gay people in some heavily Catholic countries, including Spain (86 percent), Italy (74 percent), Argentina (74 percent) and the Philippines (73 percent). In the United States, 60 percent of the public said gay people should be accepted in society.”
The United States, in contrast, had only a 60 percent rate of acceptance.
Gary Gates, a demographer at The Williams Institute, which tracks LGBT issues in surveys, gave one explanation of why strongly religious nations may be more accepting:
“There are cultures where religion is a very, very important factor, as a regular part of daily life. In those countries, it’s harder to distinguish what’s religious and what’s culture. But in other countries, like Italy or Spain, the culture has always had a live-and-let-live dimension to it. Even with a very strong religious presence, you see that kind of attitude coming out.”
Results for factors other than religion tended to mirror the trends seen in the United States. The Washington Post reported:
“As in the United States, age was a factor. The Pew study said those younger than 30 are more accepting of homosexuals in society than people who are 30 to 49. Both groups are more likely to express tolerance of gays than people 50 or older.
“The Pew poll generally found little difference in attitudes held by men and women in any given country. But in countries where there is a difference, women are more accepting of homosexuality than men are, Pew said.”
BusinessInsider.com reported that other than religion, high national income levels also tended to be a strong predictor of acceptance:
“Roughly, an increase in GDP [gross domestic product] of $620 is good for one percentage point more people agreeing with the statement ‘homosexuality should be accepted by society.’ “
BusinessInsider.com noted that one of the important exceptions to this rule was the Philippines:
“The biggest outperformer on acceptance is the Philippines, again heavily Catholic, where Pew finds levels of acceptance comparable to western Europe despite per capita GDP of less than $5,000.”
The Washington Post said that the new study’s results were corroborated by a similar earlier study:
“A smaller study, conducted in 2011 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, found support for homosexual behavior growing in 27 of 31 countries. The highest level of acceptance was in northern Europe, while disapproval remained strong in Russia and several other Eastern European countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union.”
It seems that the news of acceptance across the globe just keeps getting better and better, especially where Catholics are concerned!
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry