Has the UK’s acceptance of gay relationships ‘peaked’?

Study finds first increase in disapproval of same-sex relationships since 1983


Society’s acceptance of same-sex relationships has “reached a point of plateau” in the UK, according to a new study.

Some 66% of those polled in the latest annual British Social Attitudes survey said same-sex relations were “not wrong at all”, down from 68% the previous year.

The survey has been carried out since the 1980s. In 1983, 80% of people believed same-sex relationships were wrong but after then the figure consistently dropped, reaching 32% in 2017. However, the new study finds it increased to 34% last year. The Daily Mail says this suggests “levels of tolerance may have peaked”.

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“Liberalisation of attitudes does seem to be slowing down,” said the independent social research agency NatCen, which carried out the polling. “While social norms have changed, there is a significant minority of the population who remain uncomfortable with same-sex relationships and as such we may have reached a point of plateau.”

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told The Guardian the results suggest “there is a one-third hardcore of people resisting acceptance of two people of the same sex who love one another.”

He added: “The question is whether these people translate their views into support for political movements that want to roll back the gains of the LGBT+ community.”

Hannah Taylor of the LGBT Consortium told Sky News she fears “that in the post-Brexit climate some people have become more emboldened to express their prejudices”.

Pink News notes that “opposition to same-sex relationships has become a focal point in some parts of the UK over the past year, with a wave of protests against LGBT+ inclusive education outside schools in Birmingham and other cities”.

Stonewall’s Laura Russell told the website it was “crucial” for attitutes to change because “many LGBT people still don’t feel safe in Britain”.

“Far too many experience hate crime, discrimination and abuse in their day-to-day lives,” she said.

Ciarán Kelly, the deputy director of the non-denominational Christian Institute, said there had been “increasing pressure on people who are happy to tolerate sexual relations between adults of the same sex to endorse or celebrate it”.

He added: “We saw that with the case of the bakery in Northern Ireland where the bakers were under pressure not just to be tolerant of homosexuality, but to endorse it by supplying a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage.”

The survey, which covers other social issues, found that 74% said pre-marital sexual relations were “not wrong at all”, down from 75% the previous two years.

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