While social attitudes have improved in the last 30 years, current opinions of same-sex relationships show there is a lot of work to do
One in five British people think being gay is ‘always wrong’, a major survey of the public opinion reveals today (10 September).
The annual British Social Attitudes Report has found 22% of the population are against homosexual relationships.
But according to the NatCen Social Research survey, which questioned more than 3,000 people for over an hour on their views, opinion has shifted in the last 30 years.
In 1983, half – one in every two people – took the most critical view possible of saying homosexuality was ‘always wrong’.
As years have passed, and generations have become liberal, legislation has reflected that.
As years have passed, so have generations and legislation has reflected that.
While Section 28 and the HIV crisis took hold of the 1980s, the 2010s has seen same-sex marriage become legal in England and Wales.
The researchers believe there is a steady shift in overall public opinion of homosexuality, with a decline of 34 points over three decades in the proportion who think homosexuality is always or mostly wrong.
They believe this will shift until the 1960s generation becomes the oldest, as the ones who follow it have very similar views.
Athiests or agnostics were most likely like to be positive towards gay people, with only 16% considering it to be wrong.
This can be compared to disapproval rates of over a third among Anglicans (40%) and Catholics (35%).
Perhaps disproving the idea same-sex relationships are only confined to the left, supporters of all three main political parties have become more tolerant.
But saying that, Labour were the fastest to become accepting of gay people while the growth of pro-gay opinion in the Conservatives had been the slowest.
Education also appears to have an effect, with one in five graduates (19%) thinking homosexuality was always or mostly wrong compared to 39% who thought that in 1985.
The least tolerant are those without any qualifications at all, with nearly half (47%) opposing homosexuality. This is down from 78% in 1985.
Richard Lane, the media manager for UK-based charity Stonewall, told Gay Star News: ’20 years ago, when the majority of people thought same-sex relationships were “always” wrong, many lesbian and gay people would have thought in inconceivable that they would see full legislative equality in their lifetime.
‘The fact that we have now secured equal marriage, with the support of 71% of British people, shows how far social attitudes have changed.
‘Sadly, the number of people who still oppose same-sex relationships outright shows that there remains plenty of work still to do.’