Majority of Britons approve of equal marriage, despite Daily Mail spin

The Daily Mail ran it, and I ignored it. After all, it’s the Mail. But Pink Paper just ran it too, so I’m going to have a pop at it because the headlines are plain wrong.

Here’s the document that’s creating the fuss. (PDF Link) Quoting from “Key Findings” on page page 28: (The Daily Mail quoted this bit too)

…the majority of British people now accept the concept of same-sex couples as being
‘rarely wrong’ or ‘not wrong at all’…

That’s somewhat different from the Daily Mail headline, isn’t it? Well, they cherry-picked one particular statistic from the document for their headline, which was a separate 2006 EU study. If we look at answers to more recent studies, in 2007 about 48-49% of people thought same-sex relationships were “Rarely” or “Not at all” wrong, with about 37% thinking it was “Mostly” or “Always” wrong. (The remainder expressed no overall opinion – I’m ignoring the 2006 drop in those that think it’s wrong as a blip)

Notably, it’s also increasing in favour at a rate of nearly 2% per year. Remember that, it’s important.

So it’s clear that the public are in favour of same-sex couples, but marriage is a little different.

Their anti-marriage headline is based on five-year-old EU data and only quotes gives figures for the number of people who approve, without giving figures for the number of people giving a neutral (“Don’t know”) answer, because they are comparing attitudes across Europe. So, it’s off to the original source data. (PDF Link – 10MB) Page 43 is the relevant section, with an EU-wide “Don’t know” rate is 7%. This would mean that if 46% agree that it’s OK, about 47% are against – it’s a wafer thin margin. Given only 100 people were interviewed, that’s well within any statistical margin of error.

Updated:It’s been pointed out by a Pink Paper commenter, that the full figures are on page 80 of this document. The UK figures are that 46% agree, 9% don’t know and 45% disagree with equal marriage. There were also 1,308 interviewees, so this falls within the margin of error for the survey. Update ends

And that was 5 years ago.

And attitudes have shifted in favour.

I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that the public is probably, by now, in support of equal marriage overall. It’s certainly wrong to conclude that they’re against it, based on the sources given.

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