Homosexuality is illegal in some 72 countries worldwide, but a new study suggests that number would be significantly higher if everyday citizens had their way. The International LGBTI Association (ILGA)’s 2017 Global Attitudes Survey found that about one-fourth of the world’s population believes homosexual behavior should be a criminal offense.
Of course that percentage fluctuated greatly among the 77 countries and territories surveyed: In the U.S. and Canada, for example, only about 19% favor criminalizing same-sex behavior. In Australia, it’s just 15%.
In the the Middle East, the average was much higher: 36%. And overall, in the 15 African countries surveyed, 45% agreed with keeping legal prohibitions on homosexuality. A different survey indicated that in Nigeria, where sex acts between men carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, 90% of the population supported keeping the ban.
The full report, conducted in partnership with Viacom, Logo and SAGE, is the largest investigation of its kind, reaching more than 116,000 subjects and delving into a variety of views and experiences.
The data also suggests solutions need to come both on the political and the personal front: Of those who supported laws against homosexuality, for example, only 25% stated they actually knew a gay person.
“Knowing someone in these communities has significant positive effect on attitudes towards them,” says report co-author Aengus Carroll. “At the global level, 41% of respondents know someone who is romantically attracted to people of the same sex, and 35% of respondents directly know someone who dresses, acts or identifies as another sex than the one they were born… When people know each other first-hand, a destigmatizing effect can be produced, and that counters the stereotyping too often perpetuated by religious and political leaders and the media.”
Below, a full list of countries surveyed for the 2017 report.