Dramatic change in attitudes towards gay couples

New research from Ipsos MORI shows that the proportion of Britons who think homosexual couples should be able to marry has more than quadrupled in the four decades since 1975.

New research from Ipsos MORI shows that the proportion of Britons who think homosexual couples should be able to marry has more than quadrupled in the four decades since 1975. 69% now agree with the statement that “homosexual couples should be allowed to marry each other”, whilst just over a quarter (28%) disagree. When the same question was asked in November 1975, support for gay marriage stood at 16% (with 53% disagreeing).

 

However, there remains a degree of variation among demographic groups when it comes to supporting gay marriage. Almost nine in ten (88%) of 18-34 year olds think that homosexual couples should be able to marry each other, but a minority (43%) of those aged over 65 think the same way. This is in line with Ipsos MORI’s generational analysis on the subject, which also shows views towards same-sex relations becoming more liberal over time; but with a clear generational pattern.

Three-quarters of both Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters agree with the principle of gay marriage, whilst those who favour the Conservatives (61%) and UKIP (54%) are less sure.  However, it should be noted that a majority of all the major parties’ supporters still agree with the principle of gay marriage.

Meanwhile, the number of Britons who think homosexual couples should be able to live together openly has more than doubled since 1975. Our latest research shows that nine in ten (89%) now agree with this. When this question was asked in 1975, a plurality of Britons (40%) did agree with the statement “homosexual couples should be able to live together openly”; although three in ten (31%) said they didn’t know and 28% disagreed.

Agreement levels are consistently high across different demographic groups on the question of whether homosexual couples should be able to live together openly. 96% of 18-34s agree, as do 77% of those aged over 65. Similarly, over 80% of the major parties’ supporters also agree.

Simon Atkinson, Assistant Chief Executive at Ipsos MORI, commented:

“It is very unusual, even over a period of 40 years, to see such a sea change in public attitudes.  People in Britain are clearly behind the recent legislation on gay marriage – a rare example of Parliament and public opinion being very much in tune with each other.”

Technical note to Editors:

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,002 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 5th – 7th April 2014.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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