Drastic Shift In Public's Opinion On Marriage Equality In Northern Ireland

There was also a huge increase in support of abortion rights in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years.

Drastic Shift In Public's Opinion On Marriage Equality In Northern Ireland
Image: Kelvin Boyes / Press E

The latest report has been released as part of a 20-year study into public attitudes in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement in 1998.

Attitudes towards gay marriage, abortion and religious relations here have become more positive since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, according to the research compiled by Queen’s University and Ulster University.

Since 1998, more than 87,237 adults, young people and children have taken part in the study.

In 1998, almost half of respondents thought it was not at all or only sometimes wrong to have an abortion if there was a strong chance of a defect in the baby.

By 2016, over 80% of those asked thought the law should definitely or probably allow abortion where a foetus had a fatal abnormality.

Opinions on same-sex marriage have also drastically changed in the 20 year period. In 1998, almost 60% thought same-sex relations were always wrong.

The agreeance with this view has dropped dramatically, in 2013, the last time this question was asked, this figure had fallen to 27%.

Also asked in the 2013 survey was the public’s opinion on same-sex marriage. Of those surveyed in that year, 59% said they were in support of same-sex marriage.

Professor Adrienne Scullion, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The ARK survey series gave the people of Northern Ireland a voice when they didn’t necessarily have one. A key strength of the surveys is that they are flexible and can focus on new topics as they arise.

“We hope that the surveys will continue into the future, providing important evidence of public opinion in Northern Ireland across all age groups, and contributing to public policy and academic debates.”

As it stands, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which still bans marriage for same-sex couples, despite majority support among both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the public.

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