Two thirds of Scots support same sex marriage

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By Dave Taylor

An Ipsos-MORI poll, carried out for the Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament, on attitudes to same sex marriage in Scotland have shown an increase in the proportion supporting the proposition.

The survey asked 1000 Scottish adults: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?  Same sex couples should have the right to get married.”

Almost two thirds of Scots polled, 64%, agreed, compared with just over one quarter, 26%, who disagreed.  A further 11% had no opinion or neither agreed nor disagreed.

There were clear differences between sections of the population on the question.  Women were more likely to agree with same sex marriage than men, 70% of women supported the proposition, compared with 56% of men.  Younger people are more likely to agree with same sex marriage than the older generations.  41% of those aged over 55 were opposed, less than 18% of younger people agreed with them. Since these are arbitrary divisions, it seems likely that among the over 55 age group, opposition increased with age.

In terms of party support, Tories were least approving of the change, with more opposed (45%) than approving (44%).  Attitudes in the other parties were broadly similar. LDs 72% in favour, Labour 66% and SNP 61%.

People were also asked “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Religious organisations should have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to conduct same-sex marriages.”

68% agreed, with only 21% thinking that religious groups should have no such freedom to decide for themselves.  There were similar levels of opinion across all groups.

The results reflect growing support for same sex marriage in Scotland.  In the Scottish social attitudes survey of 2006, only a slight majority, 53%, of Scots said that they supported the right of lesbian and gay people to marry same sex partners.   

Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the poll was “deeply flawed”, adding: “When you begin your question by saying should someone have the right to same-sex marriage you automatically have distorted the result.”

However others have pointed out that the question did not begin that way, but by asking respondents to agree or disagree with a statement.

YouGov’s polling expert Anthony Wells commented on his blog:  “In this context I wouldn’t have asked the question as an agree/disagree, but given it is quite a bare statement I doubt it has made that much difference.

The church’s rebuttal seems to be that people are more likely to agree that people should have the ‘right’ to do something than think they should just be ‘able’ to do something.  I would imagine the exact opposite to be the case.”