Over half of Estonians consider same-sex attraction acceptable

For the first time in the last ten years, more than half of Estonians consider same-sex attraction acceptable, according to a recent survey on the attitudes towards LGBT topics in Estonia.

The Estonian Human Rights Centre has conducted five public opinion surveys in the last ten years, and the latest, 2021 survey demonstrates the residents of Estonia have adopted a considerably more positive attitude towards gay people compared with two years ago. This change in attitude has occurred among both the Estonian-speaking population and speakers of other languages, the Estonian Human Rights Centre said in a statement.

“For the first time, more than half of the respondents consider same-sex attraction completely or somewhat acceptable (53%). The number of Estonian residents who consider same-sex attraction acceptable has risen by 12% compared with 2019. 61% of the Estonian-speaking population and 38% of speakers of other languages regard same-sex attraction as acceptable. People aged 15-19 are the most open-minded: 73% of them think that same-sex attraction is a normal part of society.”

According to the survey, 42% of respondents consider same-sex attraction completely or somewhat unacceptable. “Differences in attitudes are mostly related to age, native language and level of education. Respondents mostly regard same-sex attraction as unacceptable because they think that it is abnormal or unpleasant.”

Estonians and Russians disagree

The survey also showed that people continue to believe that society is more intolerant towards same-sex attraction than it actually is. A mere 34% thought that society finds same-sex attraction acceptable.

“Everyday communication with gay people (salesmen, doctors and someone in a group of people) is becoming increasingly acceptable year after year for the majority of respondents. However, residents find it somewhat less acceptable if same-sex attraction affects their children’s lives (relevant TV shows or films playing in the homes of their friends who have gay parents and gay teachers),” the survey showed. 

“At the same time, a ground-breaking development has taken place here as well: those who considered such influence unacceptable used to prevail, but respondents who find it acceptable are now in the majority.”

Similarly to previous surveys, there is a marked difference in the opinions of speakers of Estonian and Russian. “While those who agreed with the statements prevailed among Estonian speakers, Russian speakers largely disagreed with them. Nevertheless, compared with the survey of 2019, the attitudes of speakers of other languages have improved by 10% on average.”

Support for the Registered Partnership Act continues to grow

In comparison with the survey two years ago, attitudes towards the rights of LGBT people have become much more positive. The understanding that allowing marriage between same-sex partners would decrease the value of marriage between a man and a woman is receding, the human rights centre said.

“There is a distinct difference based on sex and age in questions concerning the right of same-sex couples to adopt: women agree, while men tend to disagree. Respondents under the age of 30 largely approve.”

“The number of those supporting the Registered Partnership Act continues to rise. 64% of respondents support or somewhat support the act (this indicator was 49% in 2019) and 29% are against or somewhat against it (39% in 2019). 72% of Estonian speakers and 47% of those speaking other languages support the Registered Partnership Act. The 20-29 age group is the most supportive with 82% of respondents supporting the act.”

Cover: A gay couple kissing. Photo by Renate Vanaga on Unsplash.

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