Society Insights

Proud to be different: the long march for LGBT+ rights

The trend

Since 2004, the first annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the overall situation of the LGBT+ community has undoubtedly improved, although in parts of the world the context continues to be a difficult one. In several African and Asia countries, in fact, homosexuality is still illegal, while in Europe the fight against gender discrimination is back in the headlines. This following the heated debate in Italy on the Zan Bill (which would make discrimination or violence against LGBT+ people a crime) and the controversial law in Hungary backed by Prime Minister Orbán banning any mention of LGBT+ issues in schools.


If at a political level the battle is being fought on ideological/electoral grounds more often than not, public interest has grown considerably at a grassroots level with regard to the demands of the LGBT+ community. What’s more, LGBT+ issues are beginning to capture the attention of a number of organizations which are striving to promote pathways to inclusion linked to diversity in sexual orientation.


A recent Ipsos survey explored LGBT+ related questions. In the study, over 19,000 people from 27 countries participated. The findings offer a snapshot of the current level of public attention and support for the LGBT+ community, common views on marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, and opinions on equality and visibility of LGBT+ people.

Key findings

As far as marriage rights, the majority of interviewees are in favor of laws banning discrimination and promoting equality for LGBT+ people. In fact, at an international level, 54% say that they support the right to marry for same-sex couples (with the highest number coming from Sweden (79%), and Italy among the top-ranking countries at 63%). Instead only 15% say they oppose marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples (with Turkey recording the highest percentage (32%)).

Also very high are the percentages of people who believe that same-sex couples should be able to adopt children (61%). This said, among European countries the Italians and the French are the most reluctant to grant this right (59% in favor and 36% opposed, but support is rising with respect to the same survey data from 2013). In this respect, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain top the ranking, with the percentages of people who agree ranging from 77% to 81%, and who disagree under 20%.

What also emerges from the Ipsos report is that public show of support for the LGBT+ community is still not extensive: only 13% of interviewees said they’ve participated in a pro-LGBT+ event, such as a Pride Parade. But this number rises to 18% and 16% respectively if we take into consideration Generation Z and Millennials alone.

The survey also reveals widespread support for the freedom of LGBT+ people to display their sexual orientation in public, with 51% in favor and 16% opposed. The highest level of support can be found in Spain (73%), followed by Argentina (69%) and Chile (68%); the lowest in Russia (12%) and Malaysia (14%). In Italy, supporters on this question number 57%.

In contrast, less encouraging data emerge with respect to the percentage of people who say they would like to see more LGBT+ people on television and in movies and advertising. In this case only 35% are for and 25% against. However, respondents are more open in their support for lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes on sports teams (50% at a global level). Here Italy is near the top of the chart with 65%.

On average, interviewees see pro-equality activism by companies in a positive light. Support for companies and brands that actively promote LGBT+ rights comes from 47% of respondents, while 19% hold the opposite view. This figure jibes with what the majority (55%) of interviewees state: they support legal bans on LGBT+ discrimination as far as employment and access to education, housing and social services (with 19% opposed to such bans).


Proud to be different: the long march for LGBTQ+ rights