One in three back gay vicars

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A third of the English public would be happy to see practising homosexual priests, according to a poll commissioned by the Independent. The Harris poll shows a surprisingly liberal attitude to homosexuality among the population at large, particularly among the younger, more affluent and middle-class among those surveyed; but there is also solid resistance especially among the older and the more devout: 37 per cent of the population as a whole, and 52 per cent of regular churchgoers, think that the churches should proclaim all homosexuality to be wrong.

The divisions on this question run right across the spectrum of religious belief. Even those who described themselves as regular church attenders were almost evenly divided as to whether homosexuals should be priests, with 47 per cent opposed and 45 per cent in favour.

The figures give little prospect of victory to either side in the Church of England's travails over homosexuality. They will, however, give plenty of encouragement to struggle. There is too much support for homosexuals as priests and in general for any campaign against them to be very successful.

Poll details, page 3