A new survey of the British public indicates there is still a minority who remain opposed to gay rights.

24% want gay sex to be recriminalised.

Among 16 to 24 year olds almost the same number, 23%, have had sexual contact with someone of the same sex.

Overall 6% classed themselves as gay, bisexual or lesbian, while 13% of the people surveyed said they had had sexual contact with someone of the same sex at some point in their lives, 16% of women and 10% of men.

Despite the introduction of civil partnerships, the equalisation of the age of consent, and new laws banning discrimination at work and in the provision of goods, services and facilities, there remains significant opposition to gay rights.

56% of those polled in the survey thought that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

45% oppose gay marriage and 40% want a higher age of consent for gay sex, according to The Observer Sex Poll 2008.

“We have always been crystal clear that homophobia does not go away, it goes to sleep,” said Ben Summerskill of gay equality organisation Stonewall.

“It is essential that we are continually vigilant of those who would like to turn back the clock not just to 1988, when Section 28 was introduced, but to the 1950s as well.”

Homosexuality was partially decriminalised in 1967, with the age of consent set at 21. That was reduced to 18 in 1994.

In 2001 the government finally succeeded in equalising the age for gay and straight sex at 16, despite opposition from the House of Lords.