Wide regional variations . . .
COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have limited in-person Pride celebrations this year, but supporters in Asia nonetheless have reasons to be encouraged. According to a new Pew Research survey, acceptance of homosexuality has gained ground in the five Asian countries included in the 34-country poll. Acceptance was highest in the Philippines, at 73 per cent, followed by Japan (68%) and South Korea (44%), where support has increased by 14 and 19 per cent, respectively, since 2002. India showed the largest jump in acceptance: from 15 per cent in 2014 to 37 per cent today. The poll did not ask specifically about support for transgender rights, which tends to be higher in several South Asian countries. Gains have been extremely modest in Indonesia, where acceptance is only nine per cent.
Societal gaps . . .
According to Pew, several factors correlate with acceptance of homosexuality – wealth, education, and religiousness. But the gap is perhaps starkest when it comes to age. In South Korea, acceptance by those 50 and older is only 23 per cent, compared to 79 per cent acceptance among those under 30 – the widest generation gap among all countries included in the survey. There is a similar gap in Japan: 56 per cent support among those over 50 and older, compared to 92 per cent of those under 30. Another notable factor is ideology, and once again, the gap in South Korea was stark, with 28 per cent acceptance by those aligned with the political right, versus 67 per cent acceptance by those on the left.
Cautionary tales . . .
Rising acceptance in Asia contrasts with other parts of the world, such as Lebanon, Russia, and several Eastern European countries, where acceptance is declining, in some cases to as low as 13 or 14 per cent. That should get the attention of the Government of Canada, which for years has been a strong supporter of LGBTQI rights, both at home and abroad. While there is still a lot of progress to be made across Asia, Canada’s support for LGBTQI-focused community organizations in Asia could provide lessons for making gains elsewhere in the world.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Pride abroad: Canada’s support for LGBTQ activism
- Government of Canada: Canada champions LGBTQ2 rights across Asia-Pacific
- Pew Global Research: The global divide on homosexuality persists