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Europe Split On Gay Marriage
by The Associated Press

Posted: December 18, 2006  11:00 am ET 

(Brussels) European Union nations are sharply split in their attitudes toward gay marriage, with 82 percent of Dutch citizens backing it compared to less than 20 percent in several eastern and southern countries, according to a poll released Monday.

Overall, 44 percent of citizens in the 25-nation EU believe homosexual marriage should be allowed throughout the bloc, according to the Eurobarometer poll.

Support is highest in northern European nations. Behind the Dutch, 71 percent of Swedes, 69 percent of Danes and 62 percent of Belgians back the idea. In contrast, only 11 percent of Romanians, 12 percent of Latvians and 14 percent of Cypriots agree.

The twice-yearly poll questioned 30,000 people around the EU on a range of issues, from support for EU membership to legalizing cannabis.

Overall backing for EU membership fell slightly from 55 percent to 53 percent since the last poll was conducted earlier this year. The Irish were the most enthusiastic EU members with 78 percent in favor, compared to their euro-skeptic British neighbors at just 34 percent.

Support for the EU taking on new members increased by 1 percentage point to reach 46 percent. The Poles, Slovenes and Greeks were the biggest supporters of enlargement, with more than 70 percent in favor. In Germany, Austria and Luxembourg, support was around 30 percent.

For the first time, the poll questioned Europeans on a number of social issues.

It found 40 percent agreed that immigrants contribute a lot to their counties, only 26 percent think cannabis should be legalized for personal use around Europe, and 32 percent believe homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children.

The poll conducted about 1,000 interviews in each member state, and gave a margin of error of between 1.9 to 3.1 percentage points. 2006


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