Despite condemnation by the Church of England today (12 June), a new poll has revealed more than half of religious people in Britain support gay marriage.
The findings by LGBT rights group Stonewall show three in five people of faith support the UK government’s plans to legalize gay marriage in England and Wales, with 71% of Britons saying they back legislation to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples.
The YouGov survey of 2,000 people also revealed four in five of those with a faith believe that it’s right to tackle prejudice against lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The figures fly in the face of warnings by the Church of England today and fierce opposition from a large anti-gay religious lobby.
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘Recently we’ve heard senior clerics distressingly compare marriage for gay people to polygamy, bestiality and child abuse.
‘This polling holes below the waterline the suggestion that they speak for the majority of Britain’s faith communities and vindicates years of campaigning by Stonewall to change public attitudes.’
A ComRes poll last week showed the majority of gay people supported same-sex marriage, with 77% believing marriage should not be exclusively for straight couples.
The UK government’s consultation on legalizing gay marriage in England and Wales ends on 14 June.
Campaigners are also urging people to complete the short official survey.
A separate consultation has already been run by the Scottish government, which has also committed to marriage equality and results will be published soon.
Despite the good news about views on gay marriage, Stonewall’s Living Together 2012 report also reveals that in the last five years 2.4 million people of working age have witnessed verbal homophobic bullying at work and 800,000 people of working age have witnessed physical homophobic bullying at work.
Two thirds of people aged 18 to 29 say there was homophobic bullying in their school.
Summerskill admitted there was still a lot of work to be done before 21st century Britain is ‘truly tolerant’.
He said: ‘We’ll not rest until every single lesbian, gay or bisexual young person grows up in a country where they’re afforded exactly the same dignity and respect as their heterosexual counterparts.’