Tolerance towards homosexuality in Europe: Population composition, economic affluence, religiosity, same-sex union legislation and HIV rates as explanations for country differences

Susanne Slenders, I.J.P. Sieben, Ellen Verbakel

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20 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to explain variation in the level of tolerance towards homosexuality between European countries. Results of multi-level regression analyses on 40 countries from the 2008 wave of the European Values Study show that countries’ economic affluence and laws on same-sex unions are positively associated with individuals’ tolerance towards homosexuality. An additional exercise suggests that the association between laws and attitudes may be the result of two-way causality; legislation seems to both shape and reflect levels of tolerance towards homosexuality. The study finds no independent association between tolerance and the level of religiosity in a country and refutes the hypothesis that high numbers of diagnosed HIV cases resulting from sex between men are negatively related to tolerance towards homosexuality in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-367
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Attitudes
  • Europe
  • homosexuality
  • law
  • same-sex marriage
  • tolerance

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