International Conference on the European Social Survey (ESS) location:Nicosia date:23-25 November 2012
Since 2001, various Western countries have accorded legal recognition to same-sex marriages, but thus far we lack information on how this legislation is related to trends in public opinion. In most of the literature, declining levels of prejudice toward homosexuality are found to result from structural social processes (rising education, secularization, detraditionalisation), which should occur in all industrialized societies, with or without same-sex marriage. In this article, we analyse data of the five waves of the European Social Survey for the period 2002-2010. Results show that levels of prejudice are significantly lower in countries that recognize same-sex marriage, while levels are only slightly lower in countries with some form of registered partnership for gay and lesbian couples. Given the limited number of observations, however, we cannot make any final statements on whether value changes precede or follow legislative reform.