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WHY DO 16 PERCENT OF BRITONS THINK GAY SEX SHOULD BE ILLEGAL?

From journalist Amelia Abraham via an article on Vice.com:  “This weekend, the Observer published findings from a survey of 1,052 British adults on their sexual attitudes and behaviours. The study found that 16 percent of participants believe that gay sex should be made illegal, compared with 24 percent back in 2008.

Technically, that’s progress, but it doesn’t really feel like it. In fact, it feels completely archaic in a time when gay people in Britain possess the same rights to marriage and parenthood as straight people. But hey, maybe attitudes are just slower to catch up than legislation?

What was most surprising about the study was that this statistic peaked from 16 percent to 21 percent among respondents in London and the South East. These results align with a 2013 Galop survey on hate crime that found, relative to gay population, London has the highest rate of homophobic crime in the UK. Why is London – a place many would consider to be the most metropolitan city in the UK – also showing the highest levels of intolerance towards gay people?

I called Richard Lane, media manager for gay rights charity Stonewall, to discuss the study.

VICE: Hi Richard. Are you surprised by the statistic that 16 percent of Brits think gay sex should be criminalised?
Richard Lane: I think it’s sad when loving relationships between two consenting adults are frowned upon and deemed to be something that should be illegal. But, given where we have come from 10, 20, 30 years ago, this 16 percent is a rapidly diminishing group of people. It’s a sign of progress, but also a sign of the huge amount of work that we have to do to convince people that those views are antiquated in modern Britain.

From the research you’ve done at Stonewall, does that statistic sound right to you?
Well, our research shows that an overwhelming majority of the public supports equality for gay, lesbian and transgender people. But then there are always going to be a small group of people who don’t support that level of equality.

Do you have any thoughts on why there were more men who believe gay sex should be criminalised than women? The study also found that women were more supportive of the right for gay people to adopt.
I don’t think this is the first survey that’s shown up that disparity. I’ve certainly seen other surveys and other polling that suggested some level of disparity between the genders in terms of support for equality, support for same-sex couples parenting. It’s difficult to know why. It’s possibly because issues around homophobia have often been wrapped up in a macho culture and the idea that being gay is a digression from the norm of masculinity.

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Royce Christyn
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