The majority of Ukip and Conservative supporters are now in favour of gay marriage according to a new poll which shows a dramatic liberalisation of attitudes towards homosexual couples.
Although more Tory MPs voted against the same sex marriage bill than supported it, 134 compared with 123 when it was passed in Parliament last May, the Ipsos MORI survey suggests grassroots Conservatives are becoming more liberal: 61 per cent of party supporters said homosexual couples should be allowed to marry each other and even 54 per cent of Ukip supporters now feel the same. Three quarters of both Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters agree with gay marriage.
In total, the proportion of Britons who think homosexual couples should be able to marry has more than quadrupled in the four decades since 1975. Almost 70 per cent now agree with gay marriage while just over a quarter (28 per cent) disagrees. When the same question was asked in November 1975, support for gay marriage stood at 16 per cent with 53 per cent disagreeing.
In a further sign of shifting attitudes the number of Britons who think homosexual couples should be able to live together openly has more than doubled since 1975. The research shows that nine in 10 (89 per cent) now agree with this. In 1975 just four in ten Britons agreed with the statement “homosexual couples should be able to live together openly” although three in ten (31 per cent) said they did not know and 28 per cent disagreed.
Agreement levels are consistently high across different demographic groups on the question of whether homosexual couples should be able to live together openly. Almost all (96 per cent) of 18-34s agree, as do 77 per cent of those aged over 65. Attitudes still vary however as almost nine in 10 (88 per cent) of 18-34 year olds think that homosexual couples should be able to marry but a minority (43 per cent) of those aged over 65 think the same way.
Simon Atkinson, the assistant chief executive at Ipsos MORI, said: “It is very unusual, even over a period of 40 years, to see such a sea change in public attitudes. People in Britain are clearly behind the recent legislation on gay marriage – a rare example of Parliament and public opinion being very much in tune with each other.”
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