Australians are more likely than Americans and Britons to call for legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in their country, a new survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion has found.

In the online survey of representative national samples in four countries, half of Australians (49%) believe same-sex couples in their country should be allowed to legally marry.

In Britain and the United States, smaller proportions of respondents (43% and 42% respectively) agree with this idea.

In Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005, 59 per cent of respondents believe same-sex couples should continue to be allowed to legally marry.

Americans are more likely to believe that same-sex couples should not have any kind of legal recognition (27%, compared to 15% in Britain and 14% in both Australia and Canada).

Several American states have held referendums on the definition of marriage. If a referendum took place in Australia, a majority of respondents (52%) would vote to define marriage as between two people, while 43 per cent would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Britons are evenly split on this question, while a plurality of Americans would vote to keep the current definition of marriage.

A majority of Canadians (59%) and Australians (53%)—and half of Britons (49%)—believe that people are born gay. Only 40 per cent of Americans agree with this notion, while one third (34%) believe people choose to be gay. In the four countries, at least half of respondents acknowledge that they have close friends or relatives who are openly gay or lesbian (Australia 65%, Canada 62%, United States 56%, Britain 51%).

Gender and Age Divide

Female respondents in Australia (59%), Britain (50%) and the United States (45%) are more likely to call for a change in existing marriage legislation than their male counterparts. In Canada, 64 per cent of women think same-sex marriage should continue to be allowed.

Majorities of respondents aged 18-to-34 in the four countries are also more likely support same-sex marriage, with Canada at 71 per cent, Australia at 62 per cent, Britain at 56 per cent, and the United States at 55 per cent. Conversely, respondents over the age of 55 are less likely to support same-sex marriage (48% in Canada, 35% in Australia, 34% in the United States, and 30% in Britain).

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570

Methodology: Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among:

– 1,506 Australian adults who are Nine Rewards panelists, from February 21 to February 29, 2012.
– 2,019 British adults who are Springboard UK panelists, from January 26 to January 27, 2012.
– 1,007 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, from February 6 to February 7, 2012.
– 1,008 American adults who are Springboard America panelists, from January 27 to January 28, 2012.

The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1% for Canada and the United States, +/-2.5% for Australia, and +/-2.2% for Great Britain. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of each country.