Irish Polling Report

A place to discuss Irish opinion polls

Sex and Sin

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The Irish Times released the results of a poll over the last two days regarding sexual and religious matters (appropriately over two instalments, a bit like a strip tease), and they make diverting, if less than earth-shattering reading. The survey was conducted by “Behaviour & Attitudes”, a company I confess to knowing very little of. Their Managing Director Ian McShane previously held the same position with MRBI, and they are a member of AIMRO and ESOMAR, with a background (from what I can tell) of conducting surveys more related to lifestyle and attitudes than what might normally be counted as ‘political’.

The first tranche of results showed that the public acceptance of same sex relationships continues to increase (or should we say opposition dies out). The poll, which was of a sample that was 96% heterosexual, showed 67% of those think gay couples should be allowed to marry, with only 25% opposed (and 8% DKs). A Lansdowne poll in October 2006 showed 51% of the population supporting gay marriage, with a further 33% supporting instead civil partnership legislation. That poll included people aged 15+, and the 15-17yo cadre were heavily in favour, so it would probably mean that slightly less than 50% of adults supported same-sex marriage just 4 years ago, so 67% demonstrates substantial momentum. The relatively low opposition also suggests that no major party will win the percentages game in opposing moves towards full equality in this area.

Of greater controversy, but still showing a positive trend (well, IMO), attitudes to adoption by same-sex couples seem to be softening. 46% believe it should be allowed, and 38% are against. It’s still quite close, and I can’t see a stampede from the parties to introduce change here, but there’s strong grounds for at least one of them to stop playing safe on this issue. Increasingly, people recognise that this is a matter of legal rights for children already being brought up by gay couples – adoption results, in the main, in additional duties for gay parents, not “rights”.

Perhaps surprisingly similar are the figures in favour of the rights of transexuals to change their birth certs (48/39), but most of the rest of day one contained pretty predictable results. Apparently, most ppl don’t think sex outside marriage is immoral (15/79), have nothing against gay people (5/91), will have more stable marriages if they shack up beforehand (57/25), but admire those who stay celibate before marriage (48/35), and think the teens should stay out of one another’s pants until they are 18 (61/28).

Of particular interest to parents is the matter of the differential approach to underage activity between them under the Irish law. When asked “In banning underage sex, the law now provides that boys can be prosecuted for having sex with girls under 17, even if consensually. Girls cannot however be prosecuted for having sex with underage boys. Do you believe the law is correct or incorrect?” 7% said “Yes” (presumably this was meant to mean correct) and 87% said no. Of course, there was no breakdown of those who’d change this by being less severe with the boys, and those who’d lock up the girls, but on balance it would appear that a large majority appear to hold more sensible views on this matter than is assumed in political circles.

Today’s instalment focused on morality and religion. The poll consisted of a sample that was 89% Catholic, with all other denominations being in the margin of error (are there really only 2.5% of the population who are atheists?!). They were either moderately or strongly religious, with 47% attending religious services at least monthly (35% weekly or daily). These Catholics seem to be quite out of step with their church’s theology, however, with heavy majorities in favour of married priests (87/10), and women priests (78/14).

Disappointing, there is no figure for those in favour of lesbian priests marrying, but taking both sets of polls, it would appear that there would have to be a majority of the population who are Catholics who are moderately or strongly religious, who believe that the marriage bar for priests should be lifted, and who believe that marriage should be open to same sex couples! If I was a tabloid editor, this would have been worked into a fantastic headline!

A question which perhaps gauges the nature of the liberal/religiosity of the sample is the support for banning the wearing of the burqa in “public places”. While the question helpfully describes what the burqa is, I personally doubt that more than 20% of the population had seen one that week, and so the 49/36 split may reflect unease with Islam, more than support for womens rights. This would appear to be supported by the age split – age categories of 35-44 and under all oppose a ban (18-24s most strongly at 38/51), whereas all older categories support a ban with the highest support being among 55-64s at 66/22 (12% DK’s), even higher than 65+s who were 56/21 (23% DK’s). This may be a result of the oldest correspondents thinking that catholic women should cover up more, but the larger DK figure suggests that a significantly higher percentage didn’t understand the question.

Rather more fun was the question asking what people considered serious sins. Given a list of 11 sins, they were asked to rate in terms of seriousness, and the poll revealed what percentage places them in the top three. Perjury (56%) and fraud (55%) topped the poll, but interestingly, drink driving (48%) and “significant” tax evasion (40%) make the top four, which I’ll wager wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago. Four of the bottom five are the only sexually related sins, including sexual infidelity (18%), unprotected casual sex (12%), watching porn (11%) and pre-marital sex (4%), with only illegally downloading music/films (4%) scoring a less derisory score. Clearly the internet generation were well represented in this survey, but I can imagine some people outraged by this

So, at the end of the day, we’re a pack of quite religious Catholics who also support the wife swapping sodomites (as long as they’re not Muslims).

Good to know, eh?

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Written by Dotski

September 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] they’ve not been used, generally, for party polling, but to measure attitudes. One example covered here attempted to measure our attitudes to sex and sin. Interesting stuff, and certainly good for filling […]


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