06/10/2013 09:09 EDT

Canada Accepts Homosexuality, But Global Divide Exists: Poll

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Most Canadians believe homosexuality should be accepted in society, but a divide exists on a global scale, a recent poll has shown.

The survey conducted by the Washington-based Pew Research Center last week asked participants if society should accept homosexuality and found significant divisions among the 39 countries included. The organization published its findings last week in a report called "The Global Divide on Homosexuality."

Generally, researchers found higher rates of acceptance in North America, The European Union and Latin America, while regions of Africa, as well as predominantly Muslim nations and parts of Asia and Russia were the least tolerant, the report said.

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Spain had the highest level of acceptance at 88 per cent, and Nigeria had the lowest, at one per cent.

Eighty per cent of Canadians polled agreed that homosexuality should be accepted, a 10 per cent increase since Pew’s last poll on the subject in 2007.

Comparatively, 60 per cent of Americans polled believed homosexuality should be accepted, up 11 points from 49 per cent in 2007.

The report found “acceptance of homosexuality is particularly widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives.”

Juliana Horowitz, a researcher from the organization, said that factor could also play a role in the difference between the United States and Canada.

People in the United States are more likely than Canada and western Europe to consider religion to be central to their lives,” she told the Toronto Star.

Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, a U.S. think tank that focuses on sexual orientation and gender identity, also explained how cultural attitudes could factor into Pew’s findings.

There are cultures where religion is a very, very important factor, as a regular part of daily life,” he told the Washington Post. “In those countries, it’s harder to distinguish what’s religious and what’s culture. But in other countries, like Italy or Spain, the culture has always had a live-and-let-live dimension to it.”

The final report also noted countries where religion is less fundamental are also “among the richest countries in the world.”

Pew conducted the poll between March 2 and May 1, and surveyed over 37,653 people.