Study: Support for equal marriage boosted by television portrayal of gay couples

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

A poll has found that in the US, more people say their perception of gay people has been positively influenced by television’s portrayal of them, than say it has had a negative impact.

The study, run by Ipsos MediaCT found that 18% of viewers aged between 13 and 64 said that watching television, including shows such as Modern Family, which positively portrays gay parents, has changed their stance on equal marriage in a positive way.

Ten percent of viewers said that television had a negative impact on their opinion of marriage equality.

The largest group, 44% of respondents said they supported equal marriage, and that television had not changed their opinion for better or worse.

A further 28% said they were opposed to equal marriage, and that watching television had not influenced that.

Ben Spergel, senior vice president and head of TV insights at Ipsos, said: “Based on this data, I think we can conclude that TV has, at least in part, moved the needle of public opinion to see same-sex marriage in a positive way.”

The portrayal of same-sex couples on television has become increasingly positive over recent years, with shows such as Six Feet Under on HBO to NBC’s The New Normal, and ABC’s Modern Family, which is the second highest rated comedy on US television.

The study noted that images of anti-gay characters had become negative as HBO’s Game of Thrones, shows King Joffrey as homophobic, and unpopular.

Back in August, the sixth annual Network Responsibility Index was published by GLAAD, and included details of networks and shows which had accurately reflected, or not, the LGBT community through their broadcasting.

Earlier this week, US evangelical organisation the American Decency Association published an article claiming that “network television began to shove homosexuality down our throats years ago”.

The American Decency Association previously attacked the inclusive TV show Glee, created by the New Normal’s Ryan Murphy, and which often tackles issues such as sexuality, gender identity and disability, saying that it “promotes homosexuality”, and “illicit sexuality”.