Same Sex Marriage Research


Fast changing attitudes within society and the Church of England have led to a rapid decline in the number of people believing same sex marriage is wrong, according to a new opinion poll.  Nearly half of Church of England members now believe same sex marriage is right, with well over two-thirds of those under 50 believing it is right, despite the Church of England’s official stance against same sex relationships.

The Poll, conducted in February 2020 by YouGov, repeated a question asked about same-sex marriage in 2013 and 2016. The research surveyed attitudes amongst 5169 people in total across Great Britain, including 1171 Anglicans in England.

It shows a marked increase in the number of Anglicans believing same-sex marriage is right alongside a marked decrease in numbers believing it is wrong.

The results show that those identifying as Anglican in England lag well behind the public in their views, with the majority of British respondents in support and only a quarter against. 

That said, well over half of Anglican women are affirming compared to only two fifths of Anglican men. 

Results are highly age dependent, with the only Anglican group to believe that same sex marriage is wrong being Anglicans aged over 65+ (Click here for chart of Anglican Men Under 65 vs Over 65 and Anglican Women Over 65 vs Over 65). Even Anglicans aged 50-65 are now strongly now in favour, with a majority believing it is right. 

Results amongst the general public are also skewed by age, with those aged 18-24 being twice as likely to approve as those who are over 65+.

The February 2020 YouGov poll was commissioned by the Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organisations around the world to eliminate discrimination and prejudice based on sexuality and gender. 

Jayne Ozanne
Director, Ozanne Foundation

“These results show that those opposed to same-sex marriage are now clearly in the minority, and that a substantial group within the Church of England believe same sex marriage is right.  This shows the urgent need for the Church of England hierarchy to recognise and respect the clear views of a significant proportion of its members, which are steadily increasing as time goes by.  To pretend that this is an issue on which many have not yet formed a view is to misunderstand the reality of what is happening in our pews.  It will be interesting to see how the Living in Love and Faith report is received by those who have given such a strong message of support for same-sex marriage.”

Bishop Paul Bayes, Chair

“These results provide a challenge to us in leadership within the Church of England to ensure that we understand the views of the people we serve. 

Attitudes are indeed changing quickly, and we must be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us through them if we are to be an effective witness of God’s love to the nation.”

Download a HANDOUT of the 2020 results or access the full set of 2020 results here. The Anglican only responses for 2020 can be accessed here. For full transparency, we are also making available the CSV file and code book.

Results from the 2013 Questionnaire and 2016 Questionnaire are summarised here.

Media Coverage

‘Most’ Anglicans believe gay couples have right to marry, YouGov poll suggests – Telegraph, Mar 1st 2020

Most Anglicans now support Same-Sex Marriage Despite Official Church of England Stance – Independent, Mar 2nd 2020

There are now more people in the Church of England who support same-sex marriage than oppose it – Pink News, Mar 2nd 2020

Lesbian priests to lead church service on eve of Anglican summit – Guardian, Mar 4th 2020

‘You can’t abandon Christian teaching because some people don’t like it’ – Christian Institute – Christianity Today, Mar 4th 2020

Number of Anglicans in favour of same-sex marriage rises – Church Times, Mar 5th 2020

Attitudes to same-sex marriage changing – Church of England Newspaper, Mar 5th 2020

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