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MaltaToday survey | Astounding 41% agree with same-sex marriage
60% of under-35s agree with same-sex marriages, overall support up by 13 points since 2007 survey.
31 May 2012, 12:00am
60% of 18 to 34-year-olds agree with the introduction of marriage for same-sex couples, in a clear indication of a generation gap in values that finds just 23% of those over 55 years in similar agreement.
The survey shows support for gay marriage increasing by 13 points since 2007, when the first MaltaToday survey on this issue was conducted.
Overall, an absolute majority of 51.2% is opposed to the introduction of gay marriages while 42% agree with gay marriage. Those in favour of same-sex marriages include a significant nine per cent who specified that they agree with the introduction of same-sex marriage but disagree with these couples adopting children.
The survey suggests that the past five years have seen a liberalisation of social mores with support for same-sex marriages increasing by 12.5 points from the last MaltaToday survey on this issue in 2007.
Although support for same-sex marriages is strongest among 18 to 34-year-olds, the largest increase in support was registered among 35 to 54-year-olds. Among this category, agreement with same-sex marriage has increased by a staggering 22 points.
Support for same-sex marriage has also increased by six points among both 18 to 34-year-olds and among those over 55-year-olds.
The survey also indicates that while 63% of present Nationalist voters are opposed to gay marriages, 50% of Labour voters favour gay marriages.
Although a majority of Nationalist voters oppose same-sex marriages, nearly a third agree with this radical social reform.
This is a clear indication that the PN retains support amongst a segment of liberal voters despite its perceived conservatism on moral issues.
But the survey suggests that present PN voters are slightly more conservative than PN voters in 2008. In fact, opposition to gay marriages among present PN voters is five points higher than the bigger cohort of respondents who voted PN in 2003, while support for gay marriages is two points lower.
On the other hand, support for same-sex marriage is five points higher among present PL voters than among Labour voters in 2008.
Despite changing social mores, so far none of the three parties have expressed themselves in favour of same-sex marriage.
Recently Justice Minister Chris Said confirmed that a new cohabitation law will formally recognise same-sex unions but it remains unclear whether these couples will have the same rights and obligations as married couples. It also remains unclear when the cohabitation law - first promised in 1998 - will finally see the light of day.
Opposition leader Joseph Muscat has repeatedly declared his opposition to gay marriages and adoptions by gay couples but has expressed his agreement with civil partnerships.
Alternattiva Demokratika comes closest to agreement with same-sex marriages by proposing the British model based on civil partnerships which have the same legal consequences as marriage.
The only politician to unequivocally support the introduction of gay marriages is Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.
Internationally, 10 countries allow same-sex couples to marry. These include Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. Portugal has introduced gay marriages without allowing gay couples to adopt children.
Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognised in Mexico City and parts of the United States. In a symbolic boost to the international gay movement, US President Barack Obama has recently declared his support for same-sex marriages. Obama said that after years of lengthy discussions with friends and family, including his wife and two young daughters, he now "personally" believes gays and lesbians should have the right to marry.
"I've been going through an evolution on this issue. I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally," Obama said in a television interview with ABC.
"At a certain point I've just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...