The Philippines has earned its ranking as one of few gay-friendly countries in the world.
Of the 39 countries covered by a global survey, only 17 countries had majorities that accepted homosexuality, with the Philippines ranking at number 10 among the 17.
Despite its religiosity, the Philippines is one of the countries in the world where the level of public “acceptance” of homosexuals is high, according to the results of the survey.
The survey titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality” conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center showed that 73 percent of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society,” up by nine percentage points from 2002.
The percentage of Filipinos who said society should not accept gays fell from 33 percent in 2002 to 26 percent this year, it added.
This high level of acceptance, which is comparable to that found in secular western Europe, is even higher than those found in Japan (54 percent), South Korea (39 percent) or the United States (60 percent), where some states allow gay marriage.
“Brazilians and Filipinos are considerably more tolerant of homosexuality than their countries’ relatively high levels of religiosity would suggest,” the Pew survey report said.
The Philippines bucked the trend found in the survey showing that gays are mostly accepted in rich and secularized countries.
“The survey … finds that 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 report said.
“In contrast, in poorer countries with high levels of religiosity, few believe homosexuality should be accepted by society,” it added.
The Philippines is said to be one of the most religious countries in the world and almost a third of its population lives below the poverty line. In the survey’s “religiosity scale” where a score of “3” was the most religious, the Philippines almost got 2.5.
“Age is also a factor in several countries, with younger respondents offering far more tolerant views than older ones,” the survey report said.
And while gender differences are not prevalent, in those countries where they are, women are consistently more accepting of homosexuality than men,” it added.
In the Philippines, 78 percent of those aged 18-29 who were interviewed said gays should be accepted, 71 percent for those aged 30-49, and 68 percent for those 50 years old and above, according to the survey.
The report also showed that of the eight countries surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines had the second highest acceptance rate next to Australia’s 79 percent.
“In the Asia-Pacific region, where views of homosexuality are mostly negative, more than seven in 10 in Australia and the Philippines say homosexuality should be accepted by society,” the report said.
In contrast, only three percent of people in neighboring Indonesia, nine percent in Malaysia and 21 percent in China said homosexuality should be accepted, the report added.
However, Filipino gay groups were not impressed by the survey results.
When asked if the gay community in the Philippines felt accepted, Jonas Bagas, executive director of the TLF Share Collective, said: “Hardly.”
“I think that the study only reflects the perceived acceptance of the LGBT community based on the high visibility of gay entertainers. It’s acceptance [that is] contingent on how you fit the acceptable stereotype—the gay entertainer, the creative, talented bakla, the lesbian security guard,” Bagas said.
“Once you go outside these stereotypes, that’s when you encounter rejection,” he added.
Bagas said a Filipino student in a lesbian relationship faces higher probability of getting kicked out of her school than a student in a heterosexual relationship.
“We still have strong biases against gay sex, which for many is still deemed immoral and unnatural. This attitude fosters inequality in our laws, in education, healthcare and even within the family,” Bagas said.
The Pew report said those who conducted the survey had face-to-face interviews with 804 Filipinos aged 18 and above from March 10 to April 3 this year. The interviews were conducted in Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Ilocano and Bicolano.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.