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Thursday Apr 19 15:11 AEST

Almost one in four Australians don't want homosexuals as neighbours, an international survey has found.

Australians are less bigoted on the subject than people in Northern Ireland, said John Mangan, professor of economics at the University of Queensland.

Prof Mangan is co-author of a paper interpreting statistics from the Human Beliefs and Values Survey, conducted in 24 Western countries between 1999 and 2002.

He said the results showed anti-gay prejudice was by no means confined to Australia.

"The conclusion is the most prevalent form of bigotry is homophobia," he said.

"It's everybody except Scandinavians, so it's not a particularly Australian thing."

Of the 2,048 people sampled by phone in Australia, 24.7 per cent said they did not want homosexuals living next door.

But the figure was exceeded by survey respondents in Austria (26.7 per cent), Greece (26.8), the Republic of Ireland (27.5) Italy (28.7) and Portugal (25.6).

And Northern Ireland came out on top, with 36 per cent saying they did not want gay neighbours.

The least prejudiced nationality in the survey was Sweden, where only six per cent said they would object.

Australia fared relatively well in other categories, with only 4.6 per cent of people saying they would not like people of a different race as neighbours and 4.5 per cent objecting to immigrants or foreign workers next door.

Italians, on 15.6 per cent, topped the list of those who didn't want a different race next door.

The Northern Irish held the strongest views on immigrants and foreign workers, with 19 per cent saying they were not desirable neighbours.

Prof Mangan said the reasons why the various national attitudes evolved would be the subject of further research.

Factors influencing bigotry included income levels, whether people were employed or not, education levels and political leanings.

"Tolerance seems to rise with education more than anything else," Prof Mangan said.

"But you can have quite wealthy people who are older and probably have less formal education who tend to have more fixed beliefs."

His research has been published recently in the international economics journal, Kyklos.

The paper, entitled Love Thy Neighbour: How Much Bigotry is there in Western Countries, was co-authored by Professor Vani Borooah of the University of Ulster.


©AAP 2007
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