A in-depth survey of more than 2,000 people from all backgrounds, ages and religious beliefs across Britain has found that the vast majority of them are not homophobic.
Britons are on the whole comfortable with gay people and believe that discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people should be tackled.
Only one in 20 people said they don’t like lesbians and gay men, fewer than one in ten people disagree with legal protection for gay people at work and less than one in ten think that anti-gay bullying in schools should not be tackled.
The survey revealed that some long-held assumptions about the attitudes of various groups in British society are incorrect.
For example, 39 % of Sun readers said they have a high opinion of gay people – 5 % more than the national average. Among readers of the Daily Star and the Mirror the figure was 76%
75% of Sun readers think that prejudice against gay people in Britain should be dealt with.
84% of religious people disagreed with the statement, “homosexuality is morally unacceptable in all circumstances,” and 83% support laws giving gay people protection from discrimination in areas such as health care and social services.
Almost everyone (92%) would be comfortable if a footballer on the team they support was gay, and a further four in five people would not mind if a member of the royal family was gay
89% of people are in favour of laws which would make it illegal to incite hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, similar to existing laws for race and religion, a move supported by many of candidates for Deputy leader of the Labour party and the Lib Dems.
Liberal Democrat voters are most likely to think that politicians are likely to conceal their sexual orientation.
73% would not mind if their child’s teacher was gay and 85% support the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations introduced this year to give legal protections for gay people when accessing goods and services.
The vast majority believe that further steps should be taken by government to tackle homophobia in workplaces, schools and the media.
Almost one in seven respondents have witnessed homophobic bullying in the workplace.
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall’s chief executive, said: “We wanted to establish whether the shrill voices in modern Britain still opposing equality are actually representative.
“While a significant majority of Britons are clearly not prejudiced, as this polling demonstrates, their voices are often drowned out by a minority who are.
“I’m delighted we now have hard evidence that people don’t want to live in a society that allows prejudice against any group of people, including lesbians and gay men, to fester.”
Stonewall made the following recommendations:
1. Political parties should actively encourage lesbian and gay people to become MPs and councillors.
2. The media should portray lesbian and gay lives realistically.
3. Employers should ensure they fully comply with the law and tackle all forms of bullying and harassment.
4. Religious organisations should address the apparent disconnect between the anti-gay views of some religious leaders, and the attitudes of ordinary ‘people of faith’.
5. Schools should develop policies that comprehensively address anti-gay bullying.
Pollsters YouGov sampled 2,009 respondents from across Britain for the Stonewall survey.
An in-depth breakdown of the survey can be found here