A greater number of countries have become more accepting of gay men and lesbians over the last two decades, a new study concludes.

The report titled Cross-national Differences in Attitudes towards Homosexuality was compiled by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago and released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. (View the full report.)

“Overwhelmingly, societies have become more accepting of homosexual behavior,” the researchers wrote. “Moreover, the growth in approval was stronger than the decline."

Researchers found that support for gay men and lesbians has increased in 27 out of 31 countries and decreased in four former socialist countries, including Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Russia.

Using data up to 2008, researchers ranked the Netherlands the country most accepting of gay men and lesbians, followed by Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Belgium.

Acceptance is greatest in the Netherlands, where only 14 percent believe sexual relations between two adults of the same sex is “always wrong” or “almost always wrong.” That's four points less than in 1991. Not surprisingly, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001.

In contrast, a large majority (76%) of Russians say being gay is wrong, up four points from 1991.

Sentiment in the United States falls somewhere in the middle. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say homosexuality is “always” or “almost always” wrong, down from 72 percent in 1991.