A poll has found increasing visibility of gay people in America, plus rising tolerance levels for homosexuality.

According to CBS polling, only 42 per cent of Americans said they knew a gay person in 1992 but this has now risen to 77 per cent.

Only 22 per cent in the latest study claimed they did not know anyone at all who was gay.

The survey also asked about attitudes to homosexuality. Forty-three per cent said they felt same-sex relations were wrong, compared to 48 per cent who said they were not.

This was a slight decrease from January 2009, when another survey found 54 per cent of respondents felt homosexuality was not wrong.

In 1978, 62 per cent of people thought homosexuality was wrong.

Knowing someone who is gay or lesbian was found to affect how people feel about the morality of gay sex.

Fifty-three per cent of those who know someone who is gay or lesbian do not believe same-sex relations between consenting adults are wrong, while 54 per cent of those who do not know anyone who is gay or lesbian think such relations are wrong.

The majority of people (51 per cent) believe homosexuality is something people are born with, while 36 per cent think it is something people choose to be.

Fifty-three per cent of Americans think it is necessary to have laws that protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in hiring and promotion, 43 per cent do not.

As a previous study found, more people gave their approval when the survey used the phrase “gay or lesbian, rather than “homosexual”.

When asked if being gay is a choice, 36 per cent said yes when the survey mentioned homosexuality and 39 per cent said yes when it asked about gay and lesbian people.

The telephone poll surveyed 1054 adults nationwide between May 20th and 24th.