Indonesia remains one of the least tolerant countries in the world regarding attitudes toward homosexuality, a new survey finds.
“Acceptance of homosexuality is particularly widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also among the richest countries in the world,” the Pew Research Center said in its summary of the findings. “In contrast, in poorer countries with high levels of religiosity, few believe homosexuality should be accepted by society.”
The “Global Divide on Homosexuality” study surveyed 37, 653 people in 39 countries. It found Indonesians were overwhelming opposed to homosexuality, with 93 percent saying that gay people should not be accepted.
While Muslim countries were found to be overwhelmingly opposed to homosexuality, Indonesia was more resistant to same-sex relationships than both Malaysia and Pakistan — two countries that prohibit same-sex practices by law.
The survey conducted 1,000 face-to-face interviews with Indonesian adults, giving a margin for error of 4 percent, broadly in line with both surveys for Malaysia and Pakistan.
In addition, attitudes do not appear to be changing in the archipelago. Only 3 percent of Indonesians claimed to be supportive of gay rights in the last Pew survey in 2007.
People in predominately Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan along with Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelming said gay men and lesbians should be rejected from society at large, the Pew Research Center found.
In some countries where religion tends to be less central—such as Russia and China—gays have yet to gain acceptance, Pew found. Sixteen percent of Russians and 21 percent of Chinese were supportive.
One leading indicator of gay tolerance is same-sex marriage, which is now legal in 13 countries, including France, Argentina and South Africa, as well as parts of the United States and Mexico. But anti-gay sentiment persists in much of the world.
In Nigeria, where sodomy is punishable by jail, the House of Representatives passed a bill last month to criminalize gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and even membership of a gay rights group.
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said foreign same-sex couples should be barred from adoptions, saying that he would support a bill allowing only “traditional” families to adopt Russian children.
In the Pew survey, age and gender were also important factors in respondents’ attitudes, with women and younger adults more likely to say they are tolerant of homosexuality.
Even in nations such as France and the United States where most men and women back gay rights, women are more likely to be accepting by at least 10 percentage points, according to the poll.
Younger generations were also “consistently more likely than older ones to say homosexuality should be accepted by society” even in countries that overall are more supportive of gays, Pew said.
For example, 54 percent of all Japanese polled offered support. But 83 percent of those younger than 30 said they accepted gays compared to about 40 percent of those 50 and older. In the United States, 70 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds supported gays compared with 52 percent of those ages 50 and older. In Indonesia, the findings were less conclusive, with 4 percent of those under 30 supportive of gays, which was the case for only 2 percent of respondents aged 30-49.
Even in Lebanon, where 80 percent of those polled said they reject homosexuality, attitudes are changing. Nearly 30 percent of Lebanese aged 29 and younger said gays should be accepted compared to just 10 percent of those 50 or older.
The poll, which was conducted between March and May, has a margin of error of between plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points and plus-or-minus 7.7 percentage points.