Global research into attitudes towards minorities has found that a quarter of Australians do not want gay neighbours.

However, that figure still did not exceed the homophobia expressed in Italy and other conservative European nations.

As reported on PinkNews.co.uk, the people of Northern Ireland were the most prejudiced against gay people, with 36% saying they did not want them moving in next door.

Ironically the research, entitled Love Thy Neighbour: How Much Bigotry Is There In Western Countries? was co-authored by Professor Vani Borooah of the University of Ulster.

Nearly 32,000 people in 19 European countries as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA were asked the question: Would you like to have persons from this group as your neighbours?

The five groups were people of another race, immigrants or foreign workers, Muslims, Jews and gay people.

John Mangan, professor of economics at the University of Queensland, is the other author of the report.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that education is a key indicator of how prejudiced people are likely to be.

“Tolerance seems to rise with education more than anything else,” Prof Mangan said.

“But you can have quite wealthy people who are older and probably have less formal education who tend to have more fixed beliefs.”

Australians proved to be much more tolerant of people of a different race or immigrants – less than 5% would object to them as neighbours.

“The conclusion is the most prevalent form of bigotry is homophobia,” said Professor Mangan told the Herald.

“It’s everybody except Scandinavians, so it’s not a particularly Australian thing.”

Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of bigoted people in the western world, the report found.

Not only does the province have the highest proportion of bigots, but the bigots are on average more bigoted than those in other countries.

In Northern Ireland 44% of the 1,000 respondents did not want persons from at least one of the five groups as their neighbours.

The province was closely followed by Greece (43%).

The lowest proportion of bigots were found in Sweden (13%), Iceland (18%), Canada (22%) and Denmark (22%).

Homophobia was by far the main source of bigotry in most western countries: over 80% of bigoted persons in Northern Ireland and Canada and 75% of bigots in Austria, the USA, Great Britain, Ireland and Italy would not want homosexuals as neighbours.

The exceptions to this were the Scandinavian countries in which the main target of bigotry was Muslims: 74% of bigoted Danes, 68% of bigoted Swedes and 63% of bigoted Icelanders did not want Muslims as neighbours.

The corresponding proportions for homosexuals in these countries were, respectively 37%, 44% and 43%.

The study also explored who among the various countries’ populations were most likely to be bigots. It found:

· Women are less likely to be bigoted than men.

· The young (15-29 years) and middle-aged (30-49) were less likely to be bigoted than those aged over 50.

· People who were unhappy were more likely to be bigoted than those who were not unhappy.

· Some evidence that financial dissatisfaction might also be a source of bigotry.

· Right wingers, especially those who felt their government’s priority should be “maintaining order in the nation,” were more likely to be bigots than those whose politics were middle-of-the-road or left-wing.

· Students were less likely to be bigots than non-students.

· Those in socio-economic classes A-B (upper and upper-middle class); C1 (middle class, non-manual) and C2 (middle, manual) were less likely to be bigoted than those in D-E (unskilled manual).