British Catholics: Same-sex relationships “Not wrong at all”

In the UK, 62% of Catholics now say that same-sex relationships are “not at all wrong”.

This finding,  from the authoritative, annual British Social Attitudes Survey for 2017, is particularly dramatic when viewed over the long term, the thirty years from 1986 and 2016. This transformation in attitudes applies to all Christians, but especially to Catholics, for whom moral acceptance of same-sex relationships rose from just 9% 30 years ago, to 62% in 2016.

This shift is in-line with generally more liberal views on other moral issues, for example on pre-marital sex, on pornography, on abortion and on euthanasia – but is more rapid than for the other issues.

As is now familiar from many other surveys, moral acceptance of same-sex relationships is highest in the youngest age cohort, and lowest among the oldest. However,  it is notable that the increase in approval has come not only as a result of a generational shift, but is also marked within generations: an increase in acceptance over time can be seen for every age cohort.

For transgender people, the picture is more mixed. First appearances are encouraging: the survey reports that the vast majority of respondents admit to having any prejudice at all towards transgender people:

Overwhelmingly, the public reports themselves as not prejudiced against transgender people. Over 8 in 10 (82%) describe themselves as “not prejudiced at all”, while 15% say they are “a little prejudiced”, and just 2% say they are “very prejudiced” .

However, as the report itself notes, a self-declaration of freedom from prejudice is no guarantee of the fact. When asked specific questions on attitudes to the employment of suitably qualified transgender people as police officers or primary school teachers, only about 4 in 10 were completely accepting. There were additional people expressing support with some reservations, but a substantial minority remained who stated that they were opposed to such people being employed in those posts (15% opposed for police officers, and 21% for primary school teachers.

(This is the first time that questions on transgender acceptance/prejudice have been asked, so there is no time series.) 

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