Record number of Brits support same-sex marriage, 10 years after historic vote

A record number of Britons are in favour of same-sex marriage, 10 years on from The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill gaining royal assent, new research by YouGov has revealed. 

The research shows that 78 per cent of British people now support same-sex unions, the highest figure YouGov has ever recorded. 

Alongside this, three quarters of those surveyed say they believe same-sex relationships are equally as valid as opposite-sex relationships, an increase from 62 per cent when the same question was first asked in March 2012.

Same-sex marriage in England and Wales officially became legal in July 2013, with the first weddings taking place the following March. At the time, women and equalities minister Maria Miller said: “Whilst this legislation may be about marriage, its impact is so much wider. Making marriage available to all couples demonstrates our society’s respect for all individuals regardless of their sexuality.

“This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives. I am proud that we have made it happen.”

Scotland followed suit in 2014, with Northern Ireland’s legislation taking effect in January 2020. 

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When YouGov began tracking the opinions of UK citizens on same-sex marriage in February 2011, an average of little more than four in every 10 people supported it.

At that time, 28 per cent of those surveyed said that, while they supported civil partnerships, they did not back same-sex marriage. 

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One fifth (21 per cent) said they opposed any form of same-sex union. 

In December 2012, following the government’s announcement that it would introduce same-sex marriage legislation, YouGov changed its questioning to ask about supporting or opposing changes to the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. 

The poll that month found 57 per cent backed changing the law to allow same-sex marriage, with just over a third (36 per cent) opposed to the idea. 

In terms of demographics, those in older-age groups have seen a large change in opinion during the past decade. 

In 2011, only 27 per cent of those over the age of 60 supported same-sex marriage and just 39 per cent did so in late 2012.

It was not until 2019 that a majority of over-65s backed the unions, with 56 per cent expressing support for it in August of that year. 

Further research shows that between 2012 and 2023 beliefs about whether or not the UK is a “tolerant” country have remained relatively unchanged. 

In 2012, 78 per cent of those surveyed described the country as tolerant with 16 per cent describing it as “very tolerant”. 

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The numbers are similar today: 77 per cent see the nation as tolerant to gay and lesbian people, while 17 per cent feel it is “very tolerant”. 

The research also revealed that 10 years on from same-sex marriage becoming lawful, nearly half of Britons (47 per cent) say they know someone personally who is in a same-sex union. 

YouGov surveyed 4,263 adults from Great Britain between 20 and 28 June 2023.

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