Attitudes to sexual morality across 40 countries are assessed in a recently published study by the US think tank Pew Research Center.
The organisation polled residents of a representative sample of countries across the globe, include nations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and both North and South America. Participants were asked their views on a variety of sexual and social topics, including extramarital relationships, homosexuality, abortion, cohabitation and divorce.
A clear majority – 78 per cent – of the respondents said extramarital relationships were “unacceptable”, leaving, perhaps surprisingly, seven per cent who believed infidelity was excusable and ten per cent who believed it was “not a moral issue”. France stood out from the crowd – no less than 40 per cent of French respondents said extramarital relationships were not a moral issue.
By contrast, just four of ten countries said divorce was acceptable, with rates of acceptance high in European countries (an average of 50-60 per cent), compared to the United States, where only 33 per cent declared it acceptable. A further 36 per cent said it was not a moral issue.
Sex before marriage was not judged acceptable by a majority of the global respondents – only 24 per cent approved, with a further 16 per cent saying they did not think it was a moral issue.
The survey also addressed attitudes to other controversial social issues, including gambling and alcohol use.
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