While Australian MPs fret over whether to allow gay marriage, new data shows the battle of public opinion has already been won.
Men in every age group have shifted their opinion on gay marriage – mainly opposing it in 2005 to generally supporting it in 2015.
New data from the long-running University of Melbourne HILDA study shows a profound shift towards the view that homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples.
“In a sense that debate has kind of been won in terms of community attitudes, it just seems that the political system hasn’t caught up,” study author Professor Roger Wilkins told AAP.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey interviews the same 17,000 people each year on a range of issues.
The proportion of women agreeing with a shift to equal gay marriage rights rose from 43 per cent in 2005 to 67 per cent in 2015.
Among men, the proportion rose from 32 per cent to 59 per cent.
Melbourne University gender studies lecturer Hannah McCann said it was the biggest shift in the marriage, children and parenting section of the survey.
“We have seen during that time period, from 2005 to 2015, so many countries around the world change their laws around marriage equality,” Dr McCann told AAP.
“I think that we can surmise that this has had some impact, the campaign has had some impact.”
Dr McCann said there was a slightly smaller change in older age groups.
“But overall everyone was changing towards the agreement end,” she said.
Young men aged 15 to 24 had the biggest positive shift.