Rise in acceptance of same-sex relationships

30 June 2017

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THE acceptance of same-sex relationships has increased quickly in the past four years, particularly among Christians, the latest British Social Attitudes survey suggests.

Of the 2942 respondents, 64 per cent said that same-sex relationships were “not wrong at all”, up from 59 per cent in 2015, and 47 per cent in 2012. In 1987, 74 per cent thought that they were “always” or “mostly” wrong, compared with 19 per cent today.

The report says that there has been “a shift towards acceptance among every religious group in the past 5 years”. In the 2017 survey, more than half (55 per cent) of the respondents who identified themselves as Anglican said that same-sex relationships were “not wrong at all” — an increase of 24 percentage points since 2012. The equivalent figure for Roman Catholics is 62 per cent.

Other questions asked in a section on “morality” include exploring attitudes to sex before marriage. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of Anglicans said that it was “not wrong at all”, up from 37 per cent in 1985. On abortion, religious groups were less likely to say that a woman should be “allowed by law to have an abortion if she does not wish to have the child” than those of no religion. About two-thirds (67 per cent) of Anglicans agreed, compared with 61 per cent of Roman Catholics, and 78 per cent of those of no religion.

“It is possible that the interesting acceleration in liberalisation we have seen has occurred because we have reached a tipping point, after which normalisation occurs,” the report says.

It also identified “clear signs of increased support for a government that is more generous with its spending and a growing public willingness to pay for it”. Almost half (48 per cent) of respondents said that they wanted higher taxes to pay for increased spending on health, education, and social benefits — the highest level for more than a decade.

“Many people in Britain are prepared to sacrifice civil liberties in favour of protecting national security,” the report says. At a time of a suspected terrorist attack, more than half of respondents (53 per cent) said that they would support detaining suspects indefinitely, without a trial. The law currently restricts this to 14 days.

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