A poll shows over half of the British public back gay marriage, despite traditionalists saying new UK legislation would lead to the breakdown of the family.
A new YouGov survey found 55% of Britons support changing the law to allow same-sex marriage.
The promising figures follow yesterday’s (11 December) unveiling of the coalition government’s plans to legalize gay marriage.
However, Conservative Party voters are divided on the issue with 46% in favor, 48% opposed and the rest saying they don’t know.
The poll comes after right-wing UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage declared the Prime Minister’s equal marriage proposals would ‘rip apart’ the Conservative Party.
Tory member of parliament Mark Pawsey also slammed the plans claiming less straight couples will tie the knot as a result.
Speaking in the House of Commons following equalities minister Maria Miller’s announcement, Pawsey said: ‘The secretary of state herself referred to the institution of marriage as a building block of our society and yet last year nearly half of all babies were born to couples who were not married.’
He added: ‘Given that marriage rates in Spain and Holland collapsed after same-sex marriage was introduced there, is she not concerned that even fewer couples intending to have children will choose to get married?’
Meanwhile, 60% of Labour voters support same-sex marriage, and an overwhelming 77% of Liberal Democrats are in favour of the change.
There was also a considerable divide between men and women on the issue, with only 48% of men in support of same-sex marriage (43% are opposed) compared to 62% support amongst women (28% are opposed).
Under the proposals, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be exempted from performing same-sex wedding ceremonies. Other religious institutions will be able to ‘opt-in’ to holding same-sex weddings if they so choose.
According to the poll, 45% of the public support changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry in registry offices and licenced venues, but keep religious weddings in churches to those between a man and a woman, while 41% oppose this approach and 14% say they don’t know.
Meanwhile, 53% say they support giving churches the choice of whether or not to offer same-sex marriages, while 37% oppose this and 10% don’t know.
Commenting on the poll, YouGov director of political and social research Joe Twyman said: ‘All of the recent polling we have done on this issue has found that a majority of the British public support the right of same-sex couples to have full equal marriage.
‘However, dig a little deeper and we can see that Conservative voters remain more divided on this issue, with a slightly higher proportion who are opposed.
‘Ukip has already pledged to seek the votes of those who abandon the Conservatives over the issue, and so the government’s decision to plough ahead with same-sex marriage legislation could very well intensify divisions within the party over the coming weeks.’