Homosexuality decriminalisation at 50: Four in 10 British people believe gay sex is 'unnatural'

More than a third of those surveyed think same-sex parents should not be allowed to have children, 'depressing' survey finds

Chris Baynes
Thursday 27 July 2017 10:21
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A rainbow flag is held aloft in London's Pride parade last month
A rainbow flag is held aloft in London's Pride parade last month

More than four in 10 Britons still believe gay sex is "unnatural" half a century after homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the UK, a survey has found.

Forty-two per cent of people who have an opinion on the subject think gay sex is not natural, according to a YouGov poll for Pink News.

Forty-eight per cent believe primary school children should not be taught about same-sex relationships at school and 36 per cent disprove of gay men becoming parents by surrogate, adoption or other methods, the research found.

Pink News chief executive Benjamin Cohen described the results as "depressing".

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised sex between men aged over 21 in England and Wales.

“It is depressing that 50 years on from the Sexual Offences Act that so many people still think that gay sex is unnatural and that a third oppose gay couples having children," Mr Cohen said.

The poll found supporters of the Conservatives and Brexit were more likely to oppose gay rights than Labour or Remain voters.

Among Brexit voters, 59 per cent said gay sex was unnatural, compared to a quarter of Remain voters.

Sixty-eight per cent of Brexit supporters said children should not be taught about gay relationships in primary school, compared to 29 per cent of Remain voters.

Half of Leave voters did not approve of gay men becoming parents, compared to 78 per cent of Remain voters who generally approved.

The survey found 68 per cent of Conservative voters thought children should not be taught about gay relationships in primary school, compared to 70 per cent of Labour voters and 74 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters who think they should.

The poll came as Theresa May acknowledged that people may be sceptical about the Tory record on gay rights but insisted that both she and the party had "come a long way" on the issue.

In comments to mark the 50th anniversary of the Act, the Prime Minister acknowledged "we have been wrong on these issues in the past" but insisted she was proud of the role the Conservatives had played in tackling discrimination in recent years.

The YouGov survey also revealed generational divides in attitudes towards gay rights - with older people less likely to support gay sex, same-sex parenthood, and inclusive relationship education.

Seventy-eight per cent of people aged 18 to 24 said that gay sex was natural, while 69 per cent of those aged 65 and above believe it is not.

Three quarters of those aged above 65 were opposed to same-sex inclusive relationship education compared with 74 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 who supported the policy.

Meanwhile, 64 per cent of those aged 65 plus opposed gay men becoming parents, compared to 84 per cent of those aged 18-24 who were in favour.

"It is gratifying though to know that for younger people, gay relationships are considered perfectly natural and they strongly support gay parents and teaching young people about gay relationships," Mr Cohen said.

He added: "It has long been suggested that Brexit supporters would be likely to be anti-LGBT rights but now we know that there is a potential correlation with voting for Brexit and opposing gay rights."

Gay sex was legalised in Scotland in 1980 and Northern Ireland two years later. The age of consent for gay and homosexual couples became equal in 2000.

The YouGov poll of 1,609 adults was carried out online between July 23 and 24.

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