• 45% of respondents agree that Asia-Pacific will eventually embrace marriage equality, versus 31% who disagree
• Three in four respondents believe the overall climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Asia-Pacific is more open now than three years ago
• Yet companies need to do more to protect LGBT staff in countries lagging behind on LGBT rights, executives say
With Taiwan becoming the first Asian jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage this month, new research by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that the march of LGBT equality is likely to continue. The report, Pride and Prejudice: Assessing Progress in Asia-Pacific, supported by Barclays, is based on a survey of 1,901 people around the world, including 339 from 21 Asian countries or territories. It includes sentiment surrounding LGBT rights in both broader society and the business community.
While progress in Asian companies may not be as rapid as in the Western world, positive changes are occurring. Compared with results from similar surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016, the share of Asia-Pacific executives who believe there are prominent LGBT advocates in their companies increased by six percentage points. Those who believe there is a return on investment (ROI) to LGBT-progress-raising measures grew by ten percentage points. And those who would like their firms to increase funding for LGBT diversity and inclusion shot up by 11 percentage points.
In broader society, the prospect of same-sex marriage taking hold in Asia-Pacific is growing alongside deeper acceptance of LGBT people. Among those who believe the overall climate for LGBT rights in their country over the past three years has become more open, the top reason cited was change in policies and laws relating to LGBT people (38%), followed by coverage of LGBT issues in mainstream media (36%). Yet significant hurdles remain: the top reason cited by those who believe the climate for LGBT people in Asia-Pacific has become less open over the past three years was anti-LGBT advocacy by religious institutions, highlighting the need for greater appreciation of individual civil liberties among Asian social institutions.
Michael Gold, editor of the research, said: “These findings reinforce Asia’s forward momentum on LGBT rights in light of Taiwan’s historic legalisation of marriage equality. More action needs to be taken to move the needle for LGBT people in countries across the continent. Businesses have a crucial role to play, alongside governments, courts, civil society and the general public.”
About the research
Pride and Prejudice: Assessing Progress in Asia-Pacific is based on the fourth year of a global survey of attitudes surrounding LGBT rights. The panel consists of regular Economist readers who agree to participate in research panels; non-executives were included in order to present a broader swath of views. Only full-time employees answered questions relating to corporate diversity; all respondents answered questions relating to LGBT rights in broader society. Visit the Pride and Prejudice websitefor the full report and join the discussion at #EconPride.