Almost nine in ten Britons support legal protection for gays and lesbians, according to a major survey of public attitudes towards LGBT people.
The survey, commissioned by gay rights group Stonewall, has found that the vast majority of Britons, 85%, support the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, the newly-introduced legal protections for gay people.
Similar numbers would be happy if a relative, their boss or a footballer in the team they support (92%) was gay, the survey established. The vast majority also believe that further steps should be taken to tackle homophobia by government, workplaces, schools and the media.
YouGov, who unertook the poll, sampled 2,009 respondents from across Britain to gauge public opinion towards gay people. While a significant majority expressed high levels of tolerance, 73 per cent said that anti-gay prejudice needed addressing. Eighty-nine per cent support a new criminal offence of “incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation”, to match existing protections against incitement to racial hatred.
Eighty-five per cent of adults also support the UK government’s new Sexual Orientation Regulations, fiercely opposed by some religious leaders earlier this year, which make it unlawful to refuse gay people services such as healthcare or hotel rooms.
But while religion is identified as a significant cause of anti-gay prejudice, the number of people of faith supporting gay equality is almost as high as the figure in the wider population.
The survey also found that:
- 73% would not mind if their child’s teacher was gay
- 80% would not mind if a relative was gay
- 88% would not mind if member of royal family was gay
- More than a third of adults have witnessed homophobic bullying in schools
- Almost one in seven people has witnessed homophobic bullying in the workplace
- 75 per cent of Sun (a conservative newspaper) readers think that prejudice against gay people in Britain should be tackled
- Liberal Democrat voters are most likely to think that politicians are likely to conceal their sexual orientation
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: “We wanted to establish whether the shrill voices in modern Britain still opposing equality are actually representative. While a significant majority of Britons are clearly not prejudiced, as this polling demonstrates, their voices are often drowned out by a minority who are.
“I’m delighted we now have hard evidence that people don’t want to live in a society that allows prejudice against any group of people, including lesbians and gay men, to fester,” said Summerskill.