A poll on the Beeld newspaper’s website had revealed that the majority of the site’s visitors do not believe that gay relationships should be accepted by churches.

The poll, in Afrikaans, asks: “Do you believe that churches should accept gay relationships?”

The three options that visitors can respond with are: “Yes”, “No” and “My heart says one thing, my head another”.

At the time of writing, over 61% of the respondents, over 7,000 votes, replied “No”.

Only 17%, over 2,500 votes, answered “yes”.

The poll, bolstered by its anonymity, likely reflects extensive homophobia among the South African public, despite the country’s progressive pro-gay Constitution.

A 2008 Human Sciences Research Council study found that there was “widespread public intolerance of homosexuality activity” with 80 percent of respondents believing that sex between two same-gender persons is “wrong”.

While South Africa legalised civil same-sex marriages in 2006, the law does not compel religious institutions to recognise gay and lesbian relationships or marriages.

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