WESTERN Europe has the highest levels of support for same-sex marriage, while Nigeria has the lowest; but attitudes towards gay relationships are heavily influenced by age, gender, faith commitment, and politics, a new survey has found.
The Pew Research survey found huge differences globally in support for same-sex marriage, ranging from 92 per cent backing it in Sweden, to just two per cent in Nigeria, where homosexuality is illegal.
South Africa remains the only country in Africa where same-sex marriage is legal, but more than half — 58 per cent — of South Africans remain opposed to it, the report suggests.
The results were collated from the Global Attitudes survey carried out annually, based on data from 1000 people in each of 24 countries
Even in Western Europe, however, there was a wide variation: three-quarters of the UK respondents were supportive, while, in Hungary, fewer than one third — 31 per cent — were. Respondents in Poland were similarly less supportive, at 41 per cent. In both countries, same-sex marriage is not legal. But in Italy, where same-sex marriage is illegal, 74 per cent of respondents were in favour.
Factors including faith, gender, age and political alignment all influenced whether respondents were supportive or not of same-sex marriage.
Where respondents said that religion was important to them, support for same-sex marriage tended to be lower. Those who were not linked to a religion were much more likely to support gay marriage than those who followed a faith.
In Australia, for example, 89 per cent of the religiously unaffiliated adults said that they favoured same-sex marriage, compared with 64 per cent of the adults with a religious affiliation. In Brazil, Roman Catholics (56 per cent) were more likely than Protestants (32 per cent) to support same-sex marriage. In Israel, Jewish adults (41 per cent) were more likely than Muslims (eight per cent) to support same-sex marriage, although, in Nigeria, Muslims and Jews were equally likely to oppose it.
Political ideology was also an influencing factor, with those who leaned towards the Left politically more likely to support it. In 14 of the surveyed countries, women were more likely than men to say that they supported allowing same-sex couples to marry legally.
In several countries, the age of respondents also influenced support: in 12 of the countries surveyed, adults under 40 were more likely than their older counterparts to say that they favoured allowing gay people to marry legally. In the other 12 countries, age was not a factor.
The age gap was greatest in Poland, where about six in ten of the under-40s expressed support for same-sex marriage, compared with three in ten of the over-40s.