It’s been 30 days of rainbow-coloured celebrations, and after a jubilant Pride month, the confetti is finally settling. This year, there has been much to celebrate, as the parade coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when demonstrators took to the streets of New York to protest against police brutality against the LGBTQ+ community at The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.
Yet despite the steady march towards progress, the promise of rights, safety and equality at the end of the rainbow, we have received something of a setback this year. Unsettling new research has shown that acceptance of same-sex relationships has dipped for the first time since the height of the Aids crisis in 1987, when fatalistic leaflets bearing the message “don’t die of ignorance” dropped onto doormats across the country.
According to the latest British Social Attitudes Survey, the number of people who consider same-sex relationships to be “not wrong at all” fell to 66% in 2018, down from 68% the previous year. This is the first time tolerance of gay relationships has decreased in over 30 years, when nine out of 10 people thought same-sex relationships were unacceptable. Meanwhile, only 49% of people surveyed said they viewed prejudice against transgender people as “always” wrong.
How can this unsettling shift in public attitudes be explained? Representatives for the independent social research agency who carried out the research suggested that the liberalisation of social attitudes has leveled off in recent years. “While social norms have changed, there is a significant minority of the population who remain uncomfortable with same-sex relationships and as such we may have reached a point of plateau,” the report noted.
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