In the Netherlands, LGBT Acceptance Is Strong But May Not Be Improving
The Netherlands is considered one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world. As a trailblazer of anti-discrimination laws and the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, where do the Dutch stand today on specific measures of LGBT acceptance?
To find out, we analyzed data from the 2016 and 2017 iterations of the ILGA-RIWI “Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People.” These studies, done in partnership with Viacom, MTV and Logo, spanned over 100,000 online individuals in 77 countries, including the Netherlands. Here’s what we learned about Dutch attitudes toward the LGBT population:
LGBT acceptance is relatively strong in the Netherlands. Well over half of Dutch respondents (56%) said that they feel comfortable socializing with people who are openly attracted to the same sex – considerably above the global average of 41%. They’re more likely to believe that a person’s sexuality is primarily the result of biology (36% Netherlands, 25% global). A majority support same-sex marriage and agree that LGBT rights are human rights, and a third report that their own perceptions of LGBT people have improved in the last 5 years.
Dutch people are more likely to describe themselves as having same-sex attraction. More than a quarter of respondents in the Netherlands (27%) said that they are attracted to the same or both sexes – higher than the global average of 18%.
Few Dutch LGB people feel accepted, but most believe things aren’t getting worse. Only 1 in 5 LGB people in the Netherlands say they feel accepted by wider society (21%). While low, this percentage is higher than the global average of 16%. And while a majority of Dutch LGB people believe that general attitudes toward sexual diversity are improving or staying the same (76%), they’re less likely than their global peers to agree (81%).
There has been a recent decline in LGBT acceptance in the Netherlands. While Dutch attitudes toward LGBT people are generally positive, there were some notable year-to-year differences. From 2016 to 2017, there was a decline in agreement that LGBT rights are human rights and a decrease in support for same-sex marriage. Dutch people were also less likely in 2017 than in 2016 to say their perceptions of LGBT people had improved over the last 5 years.
Those who personally know an LGBT person are much more likely to believe in their equality. Dutch people who know an LGBT person are 60% more likely than those who don’t to believe that people with same-sex attraction should have equal rights and protections, as well as 98% more likely to support same-sex marriage.
Celebrity opinion is a powerful force for changing attitudes – and the media and laws are influential, too. In 2017, a higher percentage of Dutch people than in 2016 said that they would be more likely to accept LGBT people if their favorite celebrity did. Among those who said their perceptions of LGBT people had improved over the last 5 years, the main influences were news coverage, knowing an LGBT person, and pro-LGBT laws.