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Most people are completely wrong about this basic fact, poll finds

Nick Duffy November 14, 2015

A poll has found that most people greatly underestimate the number of countries that continue to criminalise homosexuality.

Around the world, 75 countries continue to criminalise homosexuality – including 42 of the 53 members of the Commonwealth.

Many other countries, such as Russia, continues to persecute LGBT people without technically criminalising homosexuality itself.

However, a shocking new poll conducted in the UK by YouGov for the AIDS Alliance found that people massively underestimate the scale of the issue – with most believing that just a handful of countries continue to persecute LGBT people.

The poll asked UK residents: “In your estimation, roughly how many countries do you think currently criminalise LGBT people for same-sex sexual activity?”

41 percent of people believed less than 30 countries criminalised homosexuality, while 34 percent of people said they did not know.

A further 25 percent believed it was between 30 and 70 countries – while just 11 percent correctly identified that it was greater than 70 countries.

The poll found that misconceptions about the Commonwealth were even more widespread, asking: “There are currently 53 countries in the Commonwealth. In your estimation, roughly how many of these do you think currently criminalise people for same-sex, sexual activity?”

Just three percent of people correctly identified that more than 41 Commonwealth nations have anti-gay laws, with a quarter believing it to be less than ten, and a quarter between 11 and 20.

27 percent of people could make no guess at all, while 19 percent believed between 20 and 40 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality.

Elsewhere, the poll found that a fifth of gay people going on holiday don’t think about whether a country’s laws criminalise LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender) people – despite high profile cases of gay tourists being jailed in countries including Morocco
and Tunisia.

79 percent of LGBT people say they take such laws into consideration when going on holiday. Just seven percent of people did overall.

Karen Johnson, Global Campaign Co-ordinator at the Alliance said: “LGBT people are disproportionately affected by HIV and, in countries where LGBT people are criminalised, they are often driven away from HIV services fearing persecution.

“Eighty per cent of the LGBT people we reached in 2014 were criminalised in their countries.

“It is important that we raise public awareness of the scale of the problem, not only because it is a moral imperative, also because of the impact that criminalisation has on people’s access to HIV services.

“It will be impossible to end AIDS until all people – regardless of their identity or sexuality – can get access to health services and treatment.”

More: Brit, criminalise, data, Gay, Homosexuality, LGBT, poll, research, Sex, sexuality, YouGov

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