British Data on Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gays

In connection with the recent thread on attitudes toward gays/lesbians, a few people indicated an interest in British survey data. The British Social Attitudes survey--an annual general survey done by Social and Community Planning Research, London--has included at least a few items on this topic in most years, and results have been presented in several recent reports. The gay/lesbian items include questions on opinions of same-sex relationships and sexual conduct, whether homosexuals should be allowed to teach in schools or hold postions in public life, and others. Of particular interest is the fact that many such items are repeated, on two-three year intervals, and that the BSA generally includes a number of items on other sorts of moral/ethical-judgment issues, and on perceptions of social trends and problems, and in some of the reports has compared results on these questions to similar ones regarding other kinds of families and relationships. I have worked with the BSA team on several projects relating to my own interest in social perceptions of right and wrong, and of political corruption specifically, and have always found the data sets to be useful and of very high quality.

Results on questions relating to gay/lesbian issues are reported in the following:

British Social Attitudes: The 1984 Report , and The 1985 Report

British Social Attitudes: The 5th (1988-89), 7th (1990-91), 8th (1991-92), and 9th (1992-93) Reports

And, some international data (Britain, Ireland, USA, and thenWest Germany) from the International Social Survey Project are reported in

International Social Attitudes: The 10th BSA Report (1993-94).

The BSA series is based on face-to-face interviews of national samples, supplemented by self-completion questionnaires. Data tapes are available from both Ann Arbor and Essex, I believe, and the series of Reports listed above is published by Dartmouth (formerly Gower). Their main office is: Dartmouth Publishing Co., Ltd., Aldershot, Hants GU11 3HR England; and there is a US office on Old Post Road, Brookfield, VT 05036.

More specific information on the BSA series can be had from Social and Community Planning Research, 35 Northampton Square, London EC1V 0AX, England (tel +44-(0)171-250-1866, fax +44- (0)171-250-1524. I would also be glad to send information on specific items, etc., to anyone interested.


Michael Johnston
Colgate University

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