Big Surprise — Countries That Try to "Pray Away the Gay" Are Not Huge Fans Of Gays

The Pew Research Center recently conducted the Global Attitudes Project to gauge the acceptance homosexuality around the world. The study found that society's attitude towards homosexuality has been fairly stable with an increase in recent years of countries legalizing same-sex marriages. Since 2010, there have been eight countries that have permitted gay men and lesbians to legally marry. These eight are out of just 15 countries total who have legalized same-sex marriage.

The data released on 39 countries countries found a broader acceptance of same-sex marriages in North America, the European Union, and most of Latin America. The most accepting of these countries, such as South Korea, the United States, and Canada, are where religion is less central to the population and are amongst the richest countries in the world.

Meanwhile, the project found that acceptance of same-sex marriages is much lower in countries that are generally poorer and have higher levels of religiosity. These countries were concentrated in the Middle East, the majority of Africa, and parts of Asia and Russia.

The project data found a strong correlation between a country's religiosity and the population's opinions about homosexuality. Religiosity was measured by the Pew Research Center as "whether the population considers religion to be very important, whether they believe it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral, and whether they pray at least once a day."

While this seems to hold true in countries such as those in the Middle East, there are some notable exceptions. For example, Russia and China both displayed low scores on the religiosity scale, which should have suggested higher levels of acceptance for same-sex marriages. However, only 16% of Russians and 21% of Chinese reported that homosexuality should be accepted by society. Conversely, both Brazil and the Philippines were much more accepting of homosexuality despite their higher scores on the religiosity scale.

As the Global Attitudes Project suggests, religion is a leading factor in accepting or not accepting same-sex marriages. However, one factor not mentioned in the project is state sponsored homophobia. There are many countries where certain groups are accepting of homosexuality while other groups frown upon it. So despite the seemingly encouraging developments for same-sex marriages, there is still a fight left.