A survey of over 9,000 people by YouGov for the Equal Future 2018 Campaign has revealed that most Catholics want the church to adopt a more positive approach to LGBT+ people.
The survey was conducted in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Philipines, United States, France, Italy, and Spain as these countries are the eight biggest Catholic countries in the world, compromising around half of the world’s baptised Catholic population. Roughly 1,200 people were surveyed in each country.
Equal Future 2018 is a coalition of LGBT+ progressive Catholic religious groups and children and young peoples’ groups from over 60 countries, and its goal is “to raise awareness around the world of the damage done to children when they are given the sense that being LGBT+ would be a misfortune or a disappointment.”
49% of practising Catholics agreed that “it could be damaging to a child/young person’s mental health and well-being if they felt that being LGBT+ was a misfortune or disappointment,” while 26% disagreed. Most of those who agreed were in the 18-29 year-old age bracket.
When asked whether or not the Catholic Church should “reconsider its current teaching on LGBT issues to help support the mental health and well-being of children and young people”, 63% of practising Catholics agreed, while 16% disagreed.
The campaign’s director, Tiernan Brady, who also headed the campaigns for marriage equality in Ireland in 2015 and Australia in 2017, welcomed the findings:
“The figures clearly show that Catholic people across the globe believe that the current teaching and approach of the hierarchy towards LGBT+ people is now damaging to children and young people and the clear majority wants the Church to change its approach.
“The support levels for changing the Catholic Church approach to LGBT+ people are reflected not just in the opinions of the general populations of all the countries polled, but also amongst baptized and practising Catholics. This is not a call for change from outside the Church – it is from its own people.”
“The truth is that far too many children and young people grow up thinking that if they or someone they knew turned out to be LGBT+ it would be bad luck or a disappointment. Most of the damage that comes from learning such attitudes happens to children and young people long before anyone knows if they are LGBT+ or not,” Brady added.
The results of the survey were published to coincide with World Mental Health Day, as Brady points out, “There is no shortage of research to tell us that the stress caused to LGBT+ people by marginalisation and anti-LGBT attitudes is real and profoundly damaging.”
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