US public: Gay legal rights = good, gays kissing = bad

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A study has found that people are more supportive of gay rights than they are of same-sex public displays of affection.

The research paper Formal Rights and Informal Privileges for Same-Sex Couples: Evidence From a National Survey Experiment was released by the University of Indiana this week.

The national study, which polled more than 1000 people, found that heterosexuals approve more of legal protections for gay people than they do gays kissing in public.

It found that while 95 percent of people think that a straight couple kissing on the cheek in public is fine, just 72 percent said the same for lesbians – and 55 percent for gay men.

The statistic was far lower than the 69 percent who supported inheritance rights for gay men, and 73 percent for lesbians, elsewhere in the study.

Researcher Long Doan said: “Support for legal benefits for gays and lesbians should not be conflated with favourable attitudes toward same-sex couples in general.

“We come to the conclusion that although heterosexuals may be increasingly willing to grant legal benefits to gay and lesbian couples, entrenched prejudice that takes on subtler forms may remain.”

Prime Minister David Cameron would presumably be in favour, having agreed in September that it was “sweet” to see gay couples kissing in public.

He told out Newsnight host Evan Davis: “That’s fine! I’ve been very clear about this.

“I believe in traditional and modern values, I believe in the family, I believe in marriage. I think it’s such a great institution, I think men should be able to marry each other and women should be able to marry each other.
“If I can kiss my wife in public, I don’t see why you can’t kiss your husband in public.”