A series of polls for PinkNews.co.uk has found that the popularity of the Conservative Party has grown since the general election, with David Cameron now a more popular choice to be prime minister than Ed Miliband. Most LGBT people said that by proposing same-sex marriage, David Cameron has positively altered their opinion towards the Conservative Party. Support for the Liberal Democrats has sunk, reflecting national opinion polls.

Over four days, PinkNews conducted two studies, one with the PinkNews voter panel, a selected and demographically weighted group of 864 LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) voters that have been tracked since 2010 and a self selecting group of 1432 PinkNews readers.

At the last general election in 2010, 39% of the PinkNews panel who voted in the most recent poll said that they voted for the Liberal Democrats, 27% for the Labour Party and 11% for the Conservatives. The Greens had 6%, SNP 1.6% and 0.5% Plaid Cymru. If there was a general election tomorrow, 38% said they would vote for Labour, 30% for the Conservatives, 13% for the Liberal Democrats, 9% for the Green Party, 2.4% for the SNP, 0.6% for Plaid Cymru and 0.69% for UKIP. In the self selecting poll, 42% said they would vote for Labour, 30% Conservative, 10% Liberal Democrat and 10% Green.

Panel members were also asked who out of Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Ed Miliband they would prefer to be prime minister. 47% said David Cameron to 42% who said Ed Miliband with just 11% saying Nick Clegg. In the self selecting poll, 37% said David Cameron, 47% Ed Miliband and 16% Nick Clegg. Respondents were only given a choice of the three main party leaders and were not allowed to select ‘someone else’.

64% of the LGBT panel members said that they either liked the Conservative party a ‘little’ or a ‘lot’ more since David Cameron proposed introducing same-sex marriage (48% a little, 16% a lot). 34% said it hadn’t change their opinion of the party.

Benjamin Cohen, Publisher of PinkNews.co.uk said: “By proposing same-sex marriage, David Cameron has seemingly improved the standing of the Conservative Party among the gay community. However what’s most interesting is that he is considerably more popular than his party within our community. This perhaps reflects the fact that many of the most vocal opponents of introducing this final act of equality for gay people have been Conservative MPs, some of whom represent and have angered the very people who voted in the poll.”

PinkNews asked panel members if they agreed with the current proposals for same-sex marriage as they stand. Just 1% said they agreed with the Government.

66% said that if gay couples were to be allowed to chose between marriage and civil partnerships, straight couples must also be given the right to hold a civil partnership too. 22% said they would prefer civil partnerships to be abolished and replaced with just marriage for straight and same-sex couples. These results were mirrored in the self-selecting survey.

85% said they believed that churches and other religious institutions should decide for themselves whether to hold a same-sex marriage. The Government is currently stating that the Church of England will be banned from conducting a same-sex marriage while other institutions can opt-in. 13% said that all churches and other religious institutions must hold same-sex marriages whether they want to or not. 2% said they believed that only civil marriages should be offered.

Commenting on these results, Benjamin Cohen, who also founded the Out4Marriage campaign said: “It’s clear that the LGBT community don’t want more rights than straight people. If we’re to be given the right to hold a marriage or a civil partnership then we believe that straight couples should be given the right to as well.

“It also clear that contrary to the rhetoric of some Christian leaders, our community doesn’t want to force same-sex marriages on churches that don’t wish to hold them. We want churches and other religious institutions to make the decision themselves and that presumably means giving Anglican churches the right to as well.”

All three of the major parties have said that they will give MPs a free vote on the issue of same-sex marriage. This divided our readers and our voting panel. 57% of the panel said that they believed that MPs should be given a free vote on introducing same-sex marriage, 36% thought it should be a whipped vote while 7% were not sure. In the self-selecting poll, 51% said that the parties should whip the vote, while 43% said that it should be a free vote.

70% of the panel believed that Labour should have introduced same-sex marriage. At the last general election, Nick Clegg said he supported gay marriages, David Cameron said he was open to introducing them while only Gordon Brown said he was opposed to them. 19% said that civil partnerships introduced were an important stepping stone to equal marriage.