Majority (76%) agree gay men, lesbians should be free to live as they wish.
As World Pride 2014 celebrations kick into high gear this weekend in Toronto, Canada, a new survey by global research company Ipsos finds that a strong majority (71%) of those in 15 developed countries support some form of legal recognition of same-sex couples – 51% think same-sex couples should be able to marry legally while 20% support some form of legal recognition but not marriage. The survey finds that 14% are opposed to same-sex couples having any kind of legal recognition while 15% are unsure. Further, three quarters (76%) of those interviewed in the 15 countries collectively agree that “gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own life as they wish.”
The survey was conducted via the Ipsos Online panel with a sample of 12,001 adults aged 18-64 in the following 15 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States.
In addition to legal recognition of partnerships, two thirds of all respondents surveyed agree both that “same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to successfully raise children” (63%) and that “same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do” (58%).
While eight in ten (79%) agree “some cultures are not ready for same-sex marriage,” majorities (71%) in these 15 developed nations disagree that “same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society.” Three in ten (32%) agree their views on same-sex marriage are different than they were five years ago.
Support for same-sex marriage appears to be driven by a series of often inter-related variables including demographic, knowing someone who is LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender), those who are spiritual or not religious as opposed to those with religious identification, social media and cultural inferences (explained in detail further in the text below).
Where appropriate, results compared to previous surveys are provided.
Respondents were asked to consider the rights of same-sex couples and select which was closest to their personal opinion. Among the 15 developed nations surveyed, half (51%, down 1 point since this time last year when an identical question was fielded to the same 15 countries) agree that “same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally” and two in ten (20%, down 1 point) say they “should be allowed to obtain some kind of legal recognition, but not to marry”. One in seven (14%, unchanged) say “same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry or obtain any kind of legal recognition” while a similar proportion (15%, up 2) are not sure.
Support for some form of legal recognition appears to be highest in Sweden (88%), followed by Spain (87%), Great Britain (81%), Germany (80%) and Belgium (79%). Those in the middle of the pack are from: Italy (76%), Australia (75%), Canada (74%), France (74%) and Argentina (73%). Those least likely to support some form of recognition at from: the United States (65%), South Korea (57%), Poland (56%), Hungary (55%) and Japan (51%).
Furthermore, seven in ten (71%, down 2 points) across all countries agree that “same-sex couples who are legally married in their home country should be treated as married when they travel to another country” and that they “should be able to have their marriage recognized in their home country if they get married in another country” (65%, down 1 point).
In a separate study conducted in September 2013, Ipsos found that three quarters (76%) of those in 14 countries – the same 15 as reported throughout this report, except for Hungary – agree that gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own life as they wish. Indeed, a majority in each country surveyed agree with the statement. Nine in ten (90%) of those in Sweden agree with the statement, followed at the top of the list by Spain (86%), Canada (83%), Belgium (83%), Germany (83%) and Great Britain (83%). Those least likely to agree are from South Korea (55%), Poland (58%), Japan (62%) and the United States (70%).
Majorities in 11 of 15 countries surveyed (and an international average of 63%, down 1 point since this time last year) agree” same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to successfully raise children”. Those most likely to agree with the statement are from Sweden (79%), Canada (76%), Australia (73%), Belgium (71%), Great Britain (71%), Spain (71%) and the United States (71%). The four countries surveyed where only minorities agree are: Poland (33%), South Korea (42%), Hungary (44%) and Italy (48%).
Similarly, majorities in those same 11 countries (an international average of 58%, down 1 point) agree “same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do.” Those most likely to agree with the statement hail from Sweden (75%), Spain (73%), Canada (73%) and Australia (68%). The same four countries with minorities are: Poland (27%), Hungary (38%), Italy (40%) and South Korea (45%).
Eight in ten (79%, down 2 points) across all developed countries surveyed, and majorities within each country, agree “some cultures are not ready for same-sex marriage.” Support for this view is highest in Germany (87%), France (85%), South Korea (85%), Belgium (84%) and Great Britain (84%). Support is lowest, but still strong, in Sweden (64%), Italy (75%), Spain (75%) and Australia (76%).
Despite this, majorities in all 15 countries surveyed (and an international average of 71%, down 1 point) disagree that “same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society”. Those most likely to disagree are from Sweden (87%), Spain (81%), Germany (78%), Italy (77%) and Great Britain (75%). Those least likely to disagree are from Hungary (54%), South Korea (57%), Poland (57%), the United States (61%) and France (68%).
Three in ten (32%, unchanged since last year) of all adults surveyed agree their views on same-sex marriage are different than they were five years ago. Countries where respondents are most likely to say their views have changed are from: Argentina (51%), South Korea (51%), Japan (36%) and the United States (33%). Those least likely to say they have changed their minds are from: Hungary (24%), Germany (24%), Sweden (26%), Poland (28%) and Great Britain (28%).
Demographics: Internationally, support for full legal marriage equality is more prevalent among women than it is among men (57% vs. 46%, an 11-point gap) and among those under the age of 35 than among those aged 35-64 (56% vs. 49%, a 7-point gap).
Knowing Someone Who is LGBT: Support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples is considerably more widespread among those who say they have a work colleague, close friend or relative who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (67%) than it is among those who say they don’t (38%). Those who report having LGBT colleagues, friends, or relatives are also much more likely than those who do not to consider same-sex couples to be just as likely as others to successfully raise children (74% vs. 53%) and to support equal adoption rights for same-sex couples (70% vs. 48%). On an international aggregate level, nearly half (46%) of respondents indicate they have a work colleague, close friend or relative who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – 39% say they don’t, 13% are unsure and 2% did not answer. However, proportions of adults who say they know LGBT people vary widely, ranging from six in ten in Spain (63%), Australia (61%), Great Britain (58%) and the United States (58%) to 4% in South Korea and 8% in Japan. Internationally, women are more likely than men to report having an LGBT colleague, friend or relative (50% vs. 42% on average across the 15 countries surveyed), as are active social media users compared with more passive users or non-users of social media (55% vs. 42% and 39%, respectively).
Religion: Those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, and those who identify as having no religion, are considerably more likely on an international level to support full legal marriage for same-sex couples than those who identify with a religion (61% and 59% vs. 37%). Those who identify with a religion are more likely to support no recognition at all (25%) or some form of legal recognition that is not marriage (21%).
Social Media: Those who are active users of social media are more likely than those who as passive or inactive users to support legal marriage for same-sex couples (56% vs. 50% and 47%, respectively) and markedly less likely to say they are not sure on the topic (8% vs. 14% and 22%, respectively).
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted via the Ipsos Online Panel system from April 1 – April 15, 2014 in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States. An international sample of 12,001 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis except in Argentina, Hungary, Poland, South Korea and Sweden, where each have a sample 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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