Gay neighbours

A survey has found 22% of NZers would not like homosexuals as neighbours. I’m not sure whether I should be pleased the figure is so low at 22%, or sad that there are still one in five people who worry about what their neighbours next door do at night time.

I wonder sometimes how much of an issue homosexuality is to people, is related to whether they know or have many dealings with gay people. I know from my own experience I was terribly homophobic at school, and there were no openly out kids. I did not know any (out) gay students. When I got to uni, it was impossible not to know gay people if you were involved in student politics, and over around 18 months my attitudes changed 180 degrees.

And since then I can’t think of a workplace I have been at where there hasn’t been gay staff, and in politics there seems to be a disproportionately high number of gay staffers and activists (not just in Labour, in National also) so over the last 20 years I would have worked with oh at least 50 or 60 gays and lesbians. And I just can’t imagine how I ever once held the views I did when I was back at school. I’m at the stage where learning someone is gay is about as significant to me as learning they have blue eyes. It’s just a feature of who they are. So I do struggle to understand how 1 in 5 people would have a problem with gay neighbours.

Anyway turning back to the survey, I’ve located the original with the raw data. It asks not just about having a homosexual neighbour, but also of a different race, a Muslim, a Jew, and a Immigrant or foreign worker.

NZers were not asked about Muslims and Jews (a pity, would be interesting) but only 3% objected to a different race, 5.4% to immigrants, and 22.3% to homosexual neigbours.

We are second lowest (out of 23 countries) for bigotry on race. Only Sweden is lower at 2.6%.Average was 8.5%

On immigrants/foreigners we are 7th lowest with 5.4% compared to average of 10.1%. And on homosexual neighbours we are in the bottom half (just) at 13th. The average is 19.6% and we were 22.3%.

The average for Muslims was 14.5% and for Jews 9.5%. The most anti-Muslim country was Greece at 20.9% and least was Canada at 6.5%. For Jews worst was Spain at 21.7% and best was Netherlands at 1.7%.

So we are only one third as bigoted (the author’s term) on different races compared to most countries, one half as bigoted against immigrants and foreigners but slightly more bigoted against homosexuals than the average.

The term bigoted is somewhat harsh, but at the end of the day judging a neighbour off their “group affiliation” rather than as an individual, is the thin wedge end of bigotry.

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