Results of a new cross-national study have shown that a vast majority of countries have become more accepting of homosexuality over the past 20 years – though the trend is markedly slower in Russia and other former Communist countries.

With support from the Williams Institute, a report by the National Opinion Research Centre (NORC) at the University of Chicago has presented new findings on the cross-national differences in attitudes towards homosexuality.  Based on five rounds of surveys undertaken in different countries between 1988 and 2008, the report examined general trends and ranked countries regarding their attitudes towards homosexuality.

The conclusion was that “overwhelmingly, societies have become more accepting of homosexual behavior.”  Thirty-one countries were identified with data relating to public opinion about LGB people. Of those, approval of homosexuality increased in 27 countries and decreased in only four:  Russia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, and Latvia.

The top five countries with the highest acceptance of homosexuality were the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium-Flanders, while the lower half of the list consisted of seven ex-Socialist states, four East Asian nations, three Latin American countries and Cyprus, South Africa, and Turkey. In Russia, for example, 59 per cent of the population felt that homosexual behavior was wrong in 1991 compared with 64% in 2008. In the same year, 54 per cent of Americans surveyed said they believed homosexuality was “always wrong”.

The report also found that attitudes towards homosexuality were more tolerant among younger adults, the educated, the non-religious and those living in large metropolitan areas.