News & Analysis

Central and Eastern Europe are less accepting towards same-sex marriages, Muslims, Jews

A new report from the Pew Research Centre has highlighted striking differences between Western Europe and CEE region in terms of public attitudes towards social issues and religion.

In almost all the surveyed countries of the region, less than half of the adult population would be willing to accept Muslims into their families. The figures is the lowest in Armenia, where only seven per cent of adults confirmed a readiness to accept Muslims. Croatia has the highest rate of acceptance in the region, with 57 per cent of its adult population positive towards Muslims. Similar outcomes were found with regards to Jews, with Georgia having the lowest (27 per cent) and Slovakia having the highest (73 per cent) acceptance rate.

Interestingly, most countries with low figures for accepting Muslims and Jews also see religion (Christianity) as a key component of their national identity. More than 82 per cent of Armenians believe that Christianity is important to their national identity, followed by Georgia and Serbia with 81 per cent and 78 per cent respectively. The Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia however, despite not showing a willingness to accept, in particular, Muslims as family members, do not view religion as particularly important in the consolidation of national identity.

People in the CEE region also believe their culture is superior to others. These numbers, especially, reach a peak in Georgia (85 per cent) and Armenia (84 per cent), which are not only the highest figures in the CEE region, but in the whole of Europe. The findings suggest that CEE is less receptive towards religious and cultural pluralism in comparison with Western Europe.

People in Central and Eastern Europe are also generally opposed to same-sex marriage. The Czech Republic is the only country of the region where a majority (65 per cent) of people surveyed favour same sex marriage.

Perspectives on legal abortion vary considerably within CEE. The Czech Republic (84 per cent), Estonia (81 per cent) and Bulgaria (80 per cent) overwhelmingly support legal abortion. The majority of the respondents from Ukraine (55 per cent), Moldova (79 per cent) and Georgia (85 per cent) believe abortion should be illegal in most cases.