A majority (55 per cent) of the British public support changing the law to allow same-sex marriage, but Conservative voters are divided on the issue with 46 per cent in favour, 48 per cent opposed and the rest who say they don’t know.
The poll comes amidst a declaration by Ukip leader Nigel Farage that the Prime Minister’s decision to legalise gay marriage would “rip apart” the Conservative Party.
Meanwhile, 60 per cent of Labour voters support same-sex marriage, and an overwhelming 77 per cent of Liberal Democrats are in favour of the change.
There was also a considerable divide between men and women on the issue, with only 48 per cent of men in support of same-sex marriage compared to 62 per cent support amongst women.
The government recently announced a proposal to legalise same-sex marriage, but the Church of England and Church in Wales will be exempted from performing same-sex wedding ceremonies. Other religious institutions will be able to “opt-in” to holding same-sex weddings if they so choose.
According to the poll, 45 per cent of the public support changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry in registry offices and licenced venues, but keep religious weddings in churches to those between a man and a woman, while 41 per cent oppose this approach and 14 per cent say they don’t know.
Meanwhile, 53 per cent say they support giving churches the choice of whether or not to offer same-sex marriages, while 37 per cent oppose this and 10 per cent don’t know.
When asked what is more important, the right of same-sex couples to get married or the right of churches to keep religious marriages to those between men and women, a plurality say that the right of churches should take priority, but a substantial proportion are unsure.
• 27 per cent say the right of same-sex couples to get married is most important
• 46 per cent say the right of churches to keep religious marriages to those between men and women is most important
• 27 per cent say they are either unsure or don’t know
Commenting on the poll, YouGov Director of Political and Social Research Joe Twyman said, “All of the recent polling we have done on this issue has found that a majority of the British public support the right of same-sex couples to have full equal marriage.
“However, dig a little deeper and we can see that Conservative voters remain more divided on this issue, with a slightly higher proportion who are opposed.
“Ukip has already pledged to seek the votes of those who abandon the Conservatives over the issue, and so the government’s decision to plough ahead with same-sex marriage legislation could very well intensify divisions within the party over the coming weeks.”
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Cara Mason @cara_mason