Fewer than a third of gay people would get married if the British government legalises same-sex marriage, while almost 40 percent believe redefining marriage is a not priority for gay people, according to a new poll.
The survey, the first ever professionally-conducted poll of gay people’s attitudes to same-sex marriage, was carried out by polling firm ComRes on behalf of media advocacy group Catholic Voices. The poll surveyed 541 adults between 17 April and 20 May who describe themselves as gay/lesbian or bisexual.
The poll showed that only 27pc of gay people would wed if same-sex marriage was available, while only 39pc think it is priority issue for gay people.
Half of homosexuals think it is important to extend marriage to same-sex couples, and 77pc disagree that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.
Seventy two percent of gays believe “marriage is more about love between two people than it is about rearing children”.
The poll also showed that a clear majority, 61pc of gay people believe that “true equality” would mean same-sex couples could marry in religious, as well as civil, locations – and more than a third 35pc, believe in forcing faith groups to perform same-sex weddings.
The poll also showed that more than a quarter of gay people, 26pc believe there is no need to change the law on marriage because civil partnerships give the same rights, while fewer than half, 47pc, agree with the view expressed by gay pressure group Stonewall that not allowing same-sex marriage worsens public attitudes to gay people.
It comes as pressure grows within the Conservative Party to slow down Government proposals to legalise same-sex marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced to agree to a free vote within his party.
The poll also showed that many gay people are suspicious about David Cameron’s motives in proposing same-sex marriage with fewer than one in five, 19pc, believing that the Prime Minister is backing the move out of conviction.
Forty nine percent believe that Mr Cameron “is only trying to extend marriage to LGBT people to make his Party look more compassionate rather than because of his convictions”
Dr Austen Ivereigh, director of Catholic Voices, which commissioned the poll, said:
“What this poll shows is that for gay people this is very far from being an important issue of human rights, equality and discrimination. Gay people do not regard same-sex marriage as a priority, and show no more enthusiasm for it than for civil partnerships, which give the same legal advantages.
“Most gay people do not believe they are discriminated against by not being able to marry. The current definition of marriage works: it sends vital messages about the importance of children being raised by their natural parents. There is no mandate for this change – even among those who are supposed to benefit from it.”
He said the figures also showed how few people would ever actually take advantage of the law if it were redefined. “The Government is proposing a radical redefinition of everyone’s marriage for the sake of a mere 0.4% of the population.”
He added: “Wherever same-sex marriage has been introduced, the change in law has created a stick with which to beat those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman. In Canada, for example, there have been more than 200 proceedings against critics of same-sex marriage in less than five years.
“This poll shows that for those gay people who care about the issue, true equality means allowing or forcing places of worship to perform gay weddings. Our religious institutions are right to be worried that any new law would quickly lead to legal challenges and pressure. This is a deeply coercive move.”
Colin Hart, Campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage (C4M) said: “This poll confirms yet again that only a handful of people are pushing the Government to redefine marriage. Even amongst those within the gay community, there is no majority who thinks that this is a priority.
“The gay community’s skepticism about the PM’s motives echoes the views in the wider population. Former Labour Minister Ben Bradshaw was absolutely right when he described these plans as ‘pure politics’. The Government should ditch these proposals, which are profoundly undemocratic and have never been put before the British public.”