New York — On the heels of the legalization of same-sex marriage in France, and as a prelude to the fast-approaching Supreme Court ruling on the matter in the United States, seven in ten (73%) of those in 16 countries support some form of legal recognition of same-sex couples – 52% support full marriage equality and 21% support some form of legal recognition but not marriage. The survey, conducted global research company Ipsos on behalf of Reuters News, finds that 14% are opposed to same-sex couples having any kind of legal recognition while 13% are unsure.
The survey was conducted with a sample of 12,484 adults aged 18-64 in the following 16 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and United States.
Six in ten of all respondents surveyed agree both that “same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do” (59%) and that “same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to successfully raise children” (64%).
Support for the issue is also highlighted by the strong proportion of participants (72%) in all countries disagreeing with the statement that “same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society.”
Support for same-sex marriage appears to be driven by demographic variables, knowing someone who is LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender), religion, social media and cultural differences.
The issue may be one that is progressing over time, as three in ten (32%) agree their views on same-sex marriage are different than they were five years ago.
Majorities Support Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage
Respondents were asked to consider the rights of same-sex couples and select which was closest to their personal opinion. Among the 16 developed nations surveyed, half (52%) agree that “same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally” and two in ten (21%) say they “should be allowed to obtain some kind of legal recognition, but not to marry”. One in seven (14%) say “same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry or obtain any kind of legal recognition” while a similar proportion (13%) are not sure.
Those surveyed with the most supporters for some sort of legal recognition are: Sweden (91%), Norway (90%), Spain (89%), Great Britain (82%) and France (80%). Countries with the smallest proportions of supporters are: Japan (51%), Hungary (51%), South Korea (57%), Poland (60%) and United States (65%).
Nine countries show outright majorities in support for full marriage equality: six where it is now legal (Sweden, Norway, Spain, Belgium, Canada, and France) and three where it is not yet legal (Germany, Great Britain, and Australia). In Argentina, where same-sex marriage is legal, supporters of full marriage equality are two-points shy of being a majority (48%).
Views in the U.S., where legal recognition varies from state to state, 42% of Americans indicate same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally; 23% say they should be allowed to obtain some kind of legal recognition, but not to marry; 23% say they should not be allowed to marry or obtain any kind of legal recognition; and 13% are not sure.
Most Countries Show Support for Same-Sex Adoption and Parenting
Majorities in 12 of 16 countries surveyed (and an international average of 59%) agree that “same-sex couples should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do.” Those most likely to agree with the statement hail from Sweden (78%), Spain (73%), Germany (71%), Canada (70%), Australia (67%), Belgium (67%) and Norway (67%). The four countries surveyed where only minorities agree are Poland (27%), Hungary (42%), Italy (42%) and South Korea (46%).
Majorities in those same 12 countries (an international average of 64%) agree that ”same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to successfully raise children”. Those most likely to agree with the statement are from Sweden (81%), Norway (79%), Canada (76%), Germany (74%), Spain (73%), Australia (72%), and Great Britain (72%). The same four countries with minorities are: Poland (36%), South Korea (42%), Hungary (46%) and Italy (49%).
In the United States, 64% support equality when it comes to adoption rights and 66% agree that same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to successfully raise children.
Most Say Same-Sex Marriage is Not Harmful to Society
Majorities in all 16 countries surveyed (and an international average of 72%) disagree that ‘same-sex marriage is or could be harmful to society’. Those most likely to disagree are from Norway (91%), Sweden (84%), Spain (84%) and Germany (80%). Those least likely are from Hungary (53%), South Korea (55%) and Poland (60%). A majority of Americans (61%) disagree that same-sex marriage is harmful to society while 39% agree.
What Drives Support for Same-Sex Couples?
Demographics: Internationally, support for full legal marriage equality is more prevalent among women than it is among men (58% vs. 46%, a 12-point gap) and among those under the age of 35 than among those aged 35-64 (58% vs. 45%, a 13-point gap). Compared with the international average, the U.S. shows a narrower but significant gender gap (5 points) and a similar generational gap (12 points).
Knowing Someone Who is LGBT: Support for full marriage equality for same-sex couples is considerably more widespread among those who say they have a work colleague, close friend or relative who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (68%) than it is among those who say they don’t (38%). Those who report having LGBT colleagues, friends, or relatives are also much more likely than those who do not to consider same-sex couples to be just as likely as others to successfully raise children (76% vs. 53%) and to support equal adoption rights for same-sex couples (71% vs. 49%).
On an international aggregate level, nearly half (46%) of respondents indicate they have a work colleague, close friend or relative who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – 37% say they don’t, 14% are unsure and 3% did not answer. However, proportions of adults would say they know LGBT people vary widely, ranging from about two-thirds in Spain (66%) and Norway (65%) to less than 3% in South Korea and 5% in Japan. Internationally, women are more likely than men to report having an LGBT colleague, friend or relative (50% vs. 41% on average across the 16 countries surveyed), as are active social media users compared with more passive users or non-users of social media (57% vs. 42% and 38%, respectively). In the U.S., the incidence of reporting to know someone who is LGBT also increases with education and income.
Religion: Those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, and those who identify as having no religion, are considerably more likely on an international level to support full legal marriage for same-sex couples than those who identify with a religion (68% and 67% vs. 44%). Those who identify with a religion are more likely to support some form of legal recognition that is not marriage (27%) or no recognition at all (17%).
Social Media: Those who are active users of social media are more likely than those who as passive or inactive users to support legal marriage for same-sex couples (56% vs. 52% and 48%, respectively) and markedly less likely to say they are not sure on the topic (8% vs. 11% and 20%, respectively). This trend holds true in the United States as well (46% vs. 44% and 36%, respectively on support for legalization of same-sex marriage).
Cultural Differences? Support for the issue is widely perceived to be cultural. Many respondents (81% overall, majorities in all countries) agree that “some cultures are not ready for same-sex marriage”. Interestingly, support for this measure cuts across the usual rankings for country support: Belgium (87%), Germany (87%), South Korea (87%), France (86%) and Great Britain (86%).
Three in Ten Say Views Have Changed
Views on the matter appear to have been shifting as three in ten of all adults surveyed online (32%) agree their views on same-sex marriage are different than they were five years ago. Countries where evolving views are most widely reported include: Argentina (50%), South Korea (47%) and Japan (36%). In the U.S., 33% say their views have changed, with the widest gap seen between those who actively use social media and those who don’t use social media at all (40% vs. 24%).
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted between on behalf of Reuters News via the Ipsos Online Panel system in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States of America. An international sample of 12,484 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis except in Argentina, Hungary, Norway, Poland, South Korea and Sweden, where each have a sample 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and one of 500 is accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points in their respective general populations. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. For more information on credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website at http://ipsos-na.com/dl/pdf/research/public-affairs/IpsosPA_CredibilityIntervals.pdf
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