The European Commission annually publishes a Eurobarometer (2006: eb66_highlights_en.pdf ) an a special barometer on discrimination (2007 Special Eurobarometer Discrimination in the European Union. The “Special Eurobarometer” covers six reasons of discrimination: Ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief and gender. Due to this report and based on 25 European countries (after enlargement, prior to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria), 68% of European Citizens view it as difficult for homosexuals to state their sexual orientation. The same amount of people shares the view that for a woman, family responsibilities are an obstacle to accessing management positions.
Indeed, average on attitudes toward homosexuality hides considerable discrepancies between countries. The view that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is widespread in their country is most widely held by people in Italy (73%), Cyprus (72%), Greece (68%) and Portugal (67%) and least so in Estonia (26%) and Denmark (27%). It can be noted that in all three Baltic States, the proportion of ‘don’t know’ responses is quite high (22% in Estonia, 20% in Lithuania and 14% in Latvia); this rate of ‘don’t know’ in the Baltic States is even higher when people are asked to compare the evolution of the situation to five years ago (36% in Estonia, 30% in Latvia and 29% in Lithuania). People in Slovenia are most inclined to feel that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is now more widespread in their country (49%), followed by people in Portugal (45%), Italy (44%), Poland (41%) and Cyprus (40%).
Having homosexual friends obviously influences people’s views on the extent of discrimination: 56% of people with homosexual friends feel that discrimination is widespread compared to 48% of those who don’t have homosexual friends. In south European countries like Cyprus 86%), Greece (85%), Portugal (83%), Italy (68%) people still regard homosexuality still as a taboo.
Even though same-sex civil unions have been legalized in some European countries, only 32% of Europeans feel that homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children throughout Europe. In fact, in 14 of the 25 Member States less than a quarter of the public accepts adoption by homosexual couples. According to Eurobarometer 66, public opinion tends to be somewhat more tolerant as regards homosexual marriages: 44% of EU citizens agree that such marriages should be allowed throughout Europe. It should be noted that some Member States distinguish themselves from the average result by very high acceptance levels: the Netherlands tops the list with 82% of respondents in favour of homosexual marriages and 69% supporting the idea of adoption by homosexual couples. Opposition is strongest in Greece, Latvia (both 84% and 89%, respectively) and Poland (76% and 89%).