Study says Catholics lead in tolerance of gays

A new Australia Institute study has found that Catholics are among the least homophobic people in Australia, with figures showing they are almost twice as tolerant as Baptists but only slightly ahead of faithful from the Anglican and Uniting Churches.

The Age reports that the study - Mapping Homophobia in Australia - shows two-thirds of Baptists and evangelical Christians believe homosexuality to be immoral.

Report co-author Dr Clive Hamilton said the results belie official Catholic church views on homosexuality that are hostile to gay marriage and recruitment of gays to the priesthood.

"It turns out that, among those who declare a religious affiliation, Catholics are the most tolerant in Australia," Dr Hamilton said.

Those of the 25,000 people surveyed who said they had no religion were the most tolerant on the issue, with only 19% saying homosexuality was immoral.

The survey also found people in central and south-western Queensland and the regions surrounding Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, as well as western Tasmania, were the least tolerant of homosexuals in the country.

The least homophobic areas of Australia were central Melbourne and central Perth.

Older Australians were more homophobic than younger people and people with higher levels of education tended to be more tolerant than those less educated.

Dr Hamilton said overall 35% of people aged over 14 years believed that homosexuality was immoral, with men more likely than women to be intolerant.

The Australia Institute describes itself as an independent public policy research centre funded by grants from philanthropic trusts, memberships and commissioned research.

Image: Percent who consider homosexuality to be immoral, by religion (from Report - see links)

Catholics are least anti-gay, says study (Australian Associated Press/The Age 26/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Australia Institute | Catholics least homophobic religious group: New analysis - PDF text of study

Catholics softer on gays (The Australian 27/7/05)
Sydney's deep south shows strongest anti-gay feelings (Sydney Morning Herald 27/7/05)

27 Jul 2005