Acceptance of Homosexuality in U.S. Still Needs Some Work

Europeans are more tolerant of homosexuality than people in the U.S.

ByABC News
June 6, 2013, 10:56 AM

June 6, 2013— -- If you're gay, it turns out there are a lot of places where people are more accepting than the United States. And Spain is the clear frontrunner. Nearly nine out of 10 people in the land of sangria and flamenco think society should accept homosexuality.

But according to a Pew Research Center report released this week, fewer than two-thirds of people in the United States think society should accept homosexuality and a full third think it should not.

Some of the resistance dates back to vestiges of our Puritan roots. The nation's founders were deeply religious and there are large swaths of the country that still abide by the idea that God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman. Institutional change has also been slow. Few states recognize gay marriage, and the ban on gays serving openly in the military was repealed just three years ago.

The good news is that, as sluggish as progress might seem, things are getting better.

Acceptance of homosexuality has actually jumped by 10 percentage points since 2007 in the U.S. And while you might expect that to be standard, it's not.

Opinion is actually going the opposite direction in a surprising number of countries, from Russia to France and the Czech Republic. It's worth noting, though, that support for gay couples is still higher in the latter two countries than it is in the U.S.

In Argentina, where gay marriage is actually legal, three out of every four people think homosexuality should be accepted. So do clear majorities in Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Interestingly, Salvadorans are far less accepting, with more than 60 percent saying homosexuals don't deserve acceptance.

Countries with extremely religious populations are also far less likely to be comfortable with the idea of homosexuality. Tolerance is very low in countries like Pakistan and Egypt, for instance.

But religion isn't the only driver of opposition. Acceptance of gay people in China, which is one of the least religious countries, is low. About four out of five people there reject homosexuality. And in the religious Philippines, Filipinos are actually pretty accepting of gay people.

It's no surprise that younger people are more accepting of their gay peers. That's been well-documented.

But it is worth noting that in countries where responses were noticeably different by gender, women are far more accepting of homosexuality. Nearly 60 percent of women in Venezuela think homosexuality should be accepted, for instance, while less than 45 percent of men feel the same way.