Homonegativity in Britain: Changing Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Relationships

Laura Watt, Mark Elliot

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Over recent decades, British attitudes towards same-sex relationships have become more accepting. However, results from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles show that, in 2010, around a fifth of 16-59 year olds still viewed sex between two men or two women as ‘always wrong’. Using data from each edition of this survey (1990, 2000, 2010), we investigate which individuals are more likely to regard same-sex relationships as wrong and how this has changed over time. Using various measures of individual characteristics, the results show sex, religiosity, ethnicity, education and whether someone has ever experienced same-sex attraction are those most strongly associated with homonegative attitudes. We show that religiosity and ethnicity became more strongly associated with homonegativity between 1990 and 2010, with religiosity replacing education as the characteristic most associated with homonegativity by 2010; explanations for these changes are offered. Further results show that attitudes towards one night stands are also associated with attitudes towards same-sex relationships. This suggests that falling rates of homonegativity might (in part) be explained by a general liberalisation in attitudes towards non-traditional sexual relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalThe Journal of Sex Research
Early online date1 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Psychology and sexuality
  • Quantitative/Statistical/Survey
  • Sexual minorities
  • Societal Attitudes


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