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Norway's Tolerative Dissonance: Europe's Anti-Semitic, yet Gay-Friendly Country

Norway's Tolerative Dissonance: Europe's Anti-Semitic, yet Gay-Friendly Country

In what at first glance looks like an inexplicable mixture of tolerance and intolerance, two studies just released rate Norway as both the most pro-gay and the most anti-Semitic of the traditionally-liberal Scandinavian countries.

An index to attitudes in 100 countries published this week by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association (ILGA), paid for with taxpayers’ money from the EU, said that new research indicates that in Norway “even though acceptance levels are generally high, 24% of male respondents said they ‘shivered with disgust'” when thinking of homosexual men, and 16% would change seats in public transports if they knew the passenger next to them was gay.”

The report also said that “parts of Muslim communities” in the country expressed “discomfort” with gays.

Despite this, the index said Norway “remained among the countries most accepting of LGBTI persons.”

Last year a gay travel guide ranked Norway’s neighbour Sweden as the most gay-friendly place for a holiday, but now the new ILGA index criticises Sweden because they rate asylum policies for gays and transgender as “inconsistent.”

Its ‘Rainbow Map’ of attitudes to gays rates Norway as one of the most tolerant countries in Europe with a rating of 68 per cent, higher than Sweden at 65 per cent. Denmark rates 60 per cent.

By comparison, the Czech Republic rates 35 per cent, Ireland 34 per cent, Greece 31 per cent, Germany 56 per cent and Britain 82 per cent.

At the same time, a new global survey by the Anti-Defamation League of attitudes towards anti-Semitism puts Norway as most anti-Semitic of the Scandinavian countries. 

The index of 100 countries showing percentage of individuals “harbouring anti-Semitic attitudes” rates Norway at 15 per cent, with Sweden at 4 per cent, and Denmark at 9 per cent.

However, Norway’s rating is matched by Finland, and both countries are low by comparison with many other European countries, making Norway’s standing as “most anti-Semitic in Scandinavia” misleading.

The index finds that 37 per cent of the French “harbour anti-Semitic attitudes,” 29 per cent of the Spanish, 27 per cent of the Germans, 45 per cent of the Poles, 21 per cent of the Portuguese and 20 per cent of the Irish.

The survey found that just 8 per cent of people in Britain and 5 per cent of people in the Netherlands had anti-Semitic attitudes, making them with Sweden the three countries the most Jewish-friendly in Europe.  

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