25% of the world’s population thinks being gay should be a crime

Bil Browning

Call it progress…kinda.

A worldwide study conducted by the Ilga-Riwi global attitudes survey has found that about one quarter of the world’s population believes homosexual behavior should be considered a criminal offense under law. The survey, conducted over 77 territories and countries, also found that attitudes toward gay, transgender, or gender-fluid vary wildly by geographical region.

For example, just 19% respondents in the United States, Western Europe, Canada and South America agreed that consenting adults in same-sex relationships should receive criminal charges. That number dropped to just 15% in New Zealand and Australia.

Predictably, the regions most opposed to homosexual behavior included the Middle East and Africa. In the 15 African countries surveyed, 45% agreed with treating queer people as criminals. 36% in the Middle East agreed.

Perhaps most troubling though for advocates of LGBT rights, even in countries which decriminalized homosexual acts years ago, significant minorities still favored criminalizing queer behavior. 18% of respondents in the United States favored criminalization, while 17% in the UK agreed.

Still, the study found another important trend: people who know out queer individuals have a much higher opposition to criminalizing gay behavior. A whopping 73% of respondents who knew a queer person favored full equality under the law.

The figure speaks again to the importance of open dialogue about queer issues, and the importance of LGBT individuals coming out about their sexuality and gender identity.

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