August 5, 2005
taboo, premarital sex condoned in Scotland
published today in the Herald reports that
Scotts frown heavily on
married people who have affairs but are becoming more tolerant of
pre-marital and gay sex, research has demonstrated.
The Scottish Social
Attitudes Survey commissioned by the Scottish Executive paints a picture
of people north of the border becoming more tolerant of the choices
people make about their sex lives.
Since a study in 2000, when
the country was embroiled in a passionate debate on homosexuality and
the alleged risk of gay teachers influencing school pupils, there has
been a marked decline in opposition to gay sex and a parallel growth in
those who are open-minded about it.
Whereas 39% of people who
were polled in 2000 thought gay sex was always wrong, only 30% thought
that last year. Those thinking it is never wrong rose from 29% to 37%.
Asked by researchers if gay
and lesbian couples should have the right to marry, 39% agreed and 35%
disagreed, most of them strongly, with 21% claiming to be neutral on the
There was, however, strong
opposition to a male gay couple adopting children – although this is
expected to become possible by a change in the law – while public
opinion was evenly split on the same right for a lesbian couple.
Pre-marital heterosexual sex
is frowned on by only 12% who think it is always or mostly wrong, while
65% said in last year's survey that it is not wrong at all.
Asked about sex between
girls and boys aged below 16, only 4% of the 1637 Scots said it is
rarely or never wrong.
strongly judgmental about married people who have affairs. Some 64% said
it is always wrong and 26% said it is mostly wrong, while only 2% said
it is not wrong at all. Women feel more strongly against extra-marital
sex, with 69% of them saying it is always wrong, compared with 57% of
The poll aims to help MSPs
understand public opinion on sex, relationships and parenting as the
family law bill goes through Holyrood. Its proposals include provisions
to liberalise divorce laws and strengthen the rights of step-parents and
The survey's findings show a
decline in the numbers who think that couples wanting children should
Less than half – 48% – last
year agreed that they should, down from 55% in 2000. Half of people
thought that a couple that wishes to marry should live together first,
and a third were neutral on the question.
Asked if married couples
make better parents, only 22% agreed, and 44% did not. And while there
are falling numbers who think marriage is the best type of relationship,
from 62% to 57%, there is a growing proportion who think marriage gives
more financial security.
The research also suggested
that the country is evenly split on whether there should be a
responsibility on the economically stronger partner to provide when a
childless marriage breaks up. When asked the same question of unmarried
couples, 40% of people said there should be such a support obligation
and 57% disagreed.
There was strong backing for
unmarried fathers having the same parental rights as married fathers,
such as the right to decide on a child's medical treatment. There was
support also for grandparents having right of access to their son's
child or children, if there is a breakdown in the father's relationship
with the children.