A public opinion survey about the attitudes of the Estonian population towards the LGBT topics, conducted by Turu-uuringute AS and commissioned by the Estonian Human Rights Center, shows that the attitudes have improved slightly in recent years. More than ever, respondents in the survey agree that gays and lesbians should be protected against discrimination in the workplace, education, and access to goods and services. The number of people in favour of the Registered Partnership Act has risen, up to 49% among respondents.
Homosexuality is considered acceptable by 41% of the population aged 14 and over, 16% consider it totally acceptable. Compared to previous studies, the attitude towards homosexuality as a whole has not changed very much, but there is an increase in a number of people who consider it to be completely acceptable (+2-7%) and decrease in the share of those who consider it totally unacceptable (-4-6%). 41% of Estonian-speaking respondents and 29% of non-Estonian speaking respondents agreed with the statement that the adoption of the Registered Partnership Act was an important step towards ensuring human rights and equal treatment in Estonia.
Kari Käsper, Director of the Estonian Human Rights Center, comments on the results: “For the first time, opponents of the Registered Partnership Act are in a clear minority. It is predictable: the same has happened in other countries when it has been understood that the legal regulation of same-sex partnership does not lead to unexpected negative consequences.”
Attitudes differ between social groups
Homosexuality is more acceptable than average among women, 20-29-year-olds, people with higher education, higher social status, and higher income, as well as residents of Tallinn and South Estonia; however, it is more unacceptable than the average among men, people over 60, non-Estonian, residents of Ida-Virumaa and smaller urban areas. While 59% of Estonians agree with the registration of same-sex partnership, only 26% of Russian speakers agree. There is also a big difference in attitudes towards same-sex marriage (45% vs. 22%).
Compared to previous results, there is an important change in the general attitude towards homosexuality – it is generally believed to have become more acceptable. While the most prevalent opinion in the Estonian-speaking population is that homosexuality is mostly acceptable in the society (29%), the Russian-speaking population is significantly more likely than average to think that it is totally unacceptable (42%) – these opinions have polarized even more over time, found the survey.
Personal contact and attitudes
Contact with homosexual people has increased: 3% of respondents have family members that belong to the LGBT community, 14% of respondents have friends from the LGBT community and 16% have former or current colleagues that belong to the LGBT community. In particular, positive attitudes about homosexuality are generated through traditional media (50%) and friends, acquaintances, relatives (45%), followed by the Internet (39%) and personal contact at work or school (31%). Compared to the survey results from two years ago, the importance of social campaigns (+10%) and the Internet (+7%) has increased as a channel that generates positive attitudes towards homosexuality, as well as personal contact at work or school (+9%).
Kristel Rannaääre, Managing Director of the Estonian LGBT Association, recognises the role of contact and awareness-raising in improving attitudes. “There is often a lack of science-based information behind the misunderstanding of LGBT+ topics. We see in our work that if a person receives adequate information, with the growth of knowledge, his or her attitudes become more positive. We also see that people with personal contact with the LGBT+ community are more open to the topic and want to understand the community better,” explains Rannaääre.
LGBT research has been commissioned and conducted every other year since 2012. This study is fourth in the row, and the study was led by Liis Grünberg, Research Manager at Turu-uuringute AS.
Read the summary of the key findings.
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