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British Social Attitudes: Support for same-sex marriage continues to rise

24 May 2015

New findings published by NatCen Social Research today show that three in five Brits support the right of same-sex couples to marry if they want to.

The results from NatCen’s flagship British Social Attitudes survey show 60% of Brits now back same-sex marriage, a significant increase from 47% in 2007.

Strength of Support

The biggest rise in support across Britain comes from those who ‘strongly agree’ with same-sex couples’ right to marry, increasing from 17% in 2007 to 31% in 2014. Notably, there was a 5 percentage point increase from 2013 and 2014 after the first marriages had taken place. 

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in March 2014 and then in Scotland in December 2014. The Republic of Ireland held a referendum on Friday to decide whether or not to legalise the institution.

Unconvinced conservatives

Despite the increased showing of support across society as whole findings from BSA also identified a number of groups where support remains less than half:

  • Political support: 49% of Conservative supporters agreed with same-sex marriage, compared to nearly two thirds of Labour supporters (65%) and over 3 in 4 (77%) of Liberal Democrats.
  • Religious affiliation: Just 47% of those in the Church of England / Anglicans agreed same-sex couples should have the right to marry compared with 77% of those with no religion.
  • Education: Only 46% of people with no qualifications support  gay marriage, compared to 73% of those with degrees.

Naomi Jones, Co-head of Attitudes at NatCen Social Research said:

“There’s a consensus amongst the majority of the British public that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry like anyone else. Predictably, it’s those groups considered more socially conservative where support remains less than half.

The notable bump in support since the first same-sex marriages in 2014 suggests that the public may see the introduction of legislation as a moral endorsement by the state.”

ENDS 

The data tables are available to download here.

For more information and copies of the report contact: 

Leigh Marshall, 0207 549 8506/07828 031 850 leigh.marshall@natcen.ac.uk

Sophie Brown, 0207 549 9550/07734 960 069 sophie.brown@natcen.ac.uk

NOTES

NatCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

 

Sample and approach – The 2014 survey consisted of 2,878 interviews with a representative, random sample of adults in Britain. The question on gay marriage was asked of 2,376 respondents. Interviewing was mainly carried out between August and October 2014, with a small number of interviews taking place in November 2014. Addresses are randomly selected and visited by one of NatCen Social Research’s interviewers. After selecting one adult at the address (again at random), the interviewer carries out an hour long interview. Most questions are answered by the participant selecting an answer from a set of cards.