Survey reveals decline in acceptance of same-sex relationships

12 July 2019

The new British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey suggests that acceptance of same-sex sexual relationships is beginning to decline in the UK.

Declining acceptance of same-sex

New figures from the BSA, which surveys around 3,000 people every year, suggest that a third of Britons don’t approve of sexual relations between people of the same sex. Since the first survey was released in 1983, acceptance of same-sex sexual relations has risen steadily, reaching 68% approval in 2017. Last year, however, that figure dropped by 2% for the first time in over 20 years.

Meanwhile, 83% of those surveyed say that are not prejudiced at all towards transgender people, but around half of the British public say that ‘prejudice’ towards transgender people is not always wrong.

Speaking to Talk Radio, Tim Dieppe, Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern, pointed out that these latest figures do not necessarily constitute a declining tolerance of LGBT people. “This is not really about tolerance: you can disagree with somebody and tolerate them. This is not really about tolerance; this is about saying ‘I disagree with this practice’ … This is about morality.”

Decline in sexual ethics

Yet support for civil partnerships is on the rise, particularly for opposite sex couples: some 65% of people support civil partnerships for opposite sex couples, while only 7% of people oppose them.

More generally there is also a rise in acceptance of premarital sex. Three quarters of respondents saw nothing wrong with premarital and extra-marital sex, compared to 42% in 1983.

Sadly this view is also reflected within the Church in the UK: only 2% of those who identified as Anglican said premarital sex was “always wrong”, and just one in ten believed sexual relations between adults of the same sex were “always wrong.” In fact, people from non-Christian religious groups were those most likely to disapprove of pre- and extra-marital sex.

Declining faith

Evidence suggests that the general public is not becoming more religious. In 1983, 66% of people identified as Christian. This was down to 50% in 2008 and has now dropped to 38% in 2018. This represents the first time the percentage has dropped below 40% since the survey began.

Now, only 12% of Britons are affiliated to the Church of England; a steep drop of 10% in just 10 years. Just 1% of 18-24-year-olds identified as belonging to the Church of England. However, those identifying as not belonging to a particular denomination has increased from 3% in 1983 to 13% in 2018.

Some 52% of respondents say they did not belong to any religion – and increase of 21% since 1983. And 26% of those polled explicitly identified as being atheist.

Decline in life ethics

Meanwhile, there was also a modest rise in people’s acceptance of experimentation on human embryos: some 74% of the public believe that scientists should be able to experiment on cells from human embryos for medical research, compared to 69% in 2008.

We have reached ‘peak rainbow’

Tim Dieppe, Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern said:

“It is possible that we may have reached ‘peak rainbow’. While the culture continues to push and promote all things LGBT, we are starting to see a decline in support for LGBT morality. It may be the way that transgenderism is such a clear denial of truth which is causing this. 

“The decline in adherence to Christianity is a direct responsibility of the church. The Church of England in particular has seen a precipitous decline in adherence over recent decades, and moves to accept and promote the LGBT agenda have contributed to this. It is churches that unashamedly proclaim the Biblical gospel which are setting the trend and seeing growth across the country.”

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