Baltic people exhibit strong homophobia

  • 2006-12-20
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are among the European Union's least tolerant nations when it comes to homosexuality, legalizing marijuana and welcoming immigrants, a recent Eurobarometer poll shows. Latvia has the highest prejudice against gays, with only 12 percent of respondents agreeing that homosexual marriage should be allowed throughout Europe.

In Lithuania, the figure is 17 percent, the same as in Poland. Estonians are slightly more tolerant, with 21 percent agreeing that gay couples should be allowed to marry.

Yet all three Baltic states fall far below the EU tolerance average, which is 44 percent. The most tolerant nations are the Netherlands and Sweden, with 82 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
One must take into account that both the Netherlands and Sweden belong to the five EU countries where homosexual marriage is allowed. The other three nations are Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom.

According to the poll, Latvia also carries the most negative attitude on allowing homosexual couples to adopt children. Eight percent of Latvians support the idea, while Lithuania and Estonia are not far off, with 12 percent and 14 percent respectively. The EU average is 32 percent.

Meanwhile, the legalization of marijuana also seems to hold some contention for the Baltic people.
Only 12 percent of Latvians, 14 percent of Estonians and 16 percent of Lithuanians agree that marijuana should be legalized throughout Europe. Yet unlike the issue of homosexuality, the three states' opinion does not differ much from the general attitude in the EU, where average support for the idea falls around 26 percent.

Most intolerant to the legalization of "grass" are the Finns and Swedes, with 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The most supportive nationality is 's to little surprise - the Dutch. The Netherlands is the only EU country where marijuana is already legal.
Since the Baltic states joined the EU, a fear of immigrating Eastern workers has escalated. And the poll results support this fear: An average four out of 10 EU citizens feel that immigrants contribute significantly to their country. However, in Latvia and Estonia the same feeling is inherent to only 16 percent of respondents, while in Lithuania two out of 10 respondents feel this way.
In comparison, 79 percent of Swedes and 66 percent of the Portuguese welcome immigrant labor.

Yet one should take into account the number of immigrants living in different EU member states to develop an accurate understanding of migration tolerance.
The last Eurobarometer indicator reported was EU attitudes toward religion.

It is small wonder that only 20 percent of Estonia's mainly Protestant residents agree that religion plays an important roll in society. Only 41 percent of Lithuanians, the majority of whom consider themselves Catholics, place a heavy value on religion.
Only 27 percent of Latvians, statistically the least religious Baltic people, see religion as holding a special place in society. In comparison with other EU numbers, where the average indicator is 46 percent, the Baltic states are hardly pious at all. Yet, for anyone who has studied Baltic history 's rich with pagan tradition and demi-gods 's this comes as little surprise.