The Australian Survey on Sex and Relationships 8: homophobia and (some) men’s double standard

People were asked if they thought (1) sex between two men was wrong, and (2) sex between two women was wrong. 

Most women were pretty clear on this. Neither is wrong, and it makes no difference whether the couple is male or female. 


“Sex between two men is wrong”      13% agreed

Sex between two women is wrong”   13% agreed

Unfortunately, although only a minority of men disapproved of male/male or female/female sex, men weren’t quite as liberal as women. Also, there was a definite double standard between how that minority of male bigots felt about male and female same-sex, er, action.  


“Sex between two men is wrong”        27% agreed

“Sex between two women is wrong”   17% agreed

A seismic shift in attitudes

The good news, though, is that anti-gay and anti-lesbian bigotry is certainly on the way out. Just in the ten years since the first survey, disapproval of sex between two men has fallen by a massive 13% (combining the male and female responses, and doing some rounding).

Disapproval of sex between two women has fallen by 9%. That’s still a huge shift, but the disapproval figures for lesbian sex were already lower than for male homosexual sex. 

Only 1 in 5 Australians now disapprove of male on male sex, and fewer than 1 in 6 Australians disapprove of lesbian sex. 

It looks to me that one of the biggest drivers of this change in recent years was the efforts of the Christian Right in Australia to mobilise public opinion against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

It was a huge own goal. By being so blatantly unpleasant and weirdly obsessive about gays and lesbians, and incoherent in trying to invent non-bigoted reasons for opposing marriage equality, the Australian Christian Lobby drove middle-of-the-road, not very political people away from their own side.

Attitudes would still have changed, but they made the change faster, and greater. It’s good when that happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.