In ten years, the Estonian Human Rights Centre has carried out five public opinion surveys concerning LGBT issues. The surveys were conducted in 2012, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023 by Turu-uuringute AS.
The 2023 survey indicates that the attitudes of the residents of Estonia towards lesbians and gay people are even more positive than two years ago. The change in the attitude of the population whose native language is not Estonian is particularly big.
More than half of the respondents (56%) consider homosexuality completely or somewhat acceptable. 64% of the Estonian-speaking population and 39% of speakers of other languages regard same-sex attraction as acceptable. People aged 20-29 are the most open-minded: 83% of them think that homosexual people are a normal part of society.
38% of respondents consider homosexuality completely or somewhat unacceptable. Differences in attitudes are mostly related to age, native language and level of education. Respondents mostly regard homosexuality as unacceptable because they think that it is abnormal, unnatural or untraditional.
Respondents continue to believe that society is more intolerant towards homosexuality than it actually is. Only 42% of the respondents thought that society finds homosexuality acceptable. Increasingly more people would not feel uncomfortable in a group of people that includes a gay or lesbian person. Compared to the survey of 2021, the change has become more positive by 10 percentage points. Everyday communication with homosexual people (salesmen, doctors and someone in a group of people) is becoming increasingly more acceptable year after year for the majority of respondents. However, residents find it somewhat less acceptable if homosexuality affects their children’s lives (relevant TV shows or films; playing in the homes of friends who have gay parents; gay teachers).
Similarly to previous surveys, there is a marked difference in the opinions of speakers of Estonian and Russian, especially on issues related to children: while Estonian-speaking respondents were overwhelmingly in agreement with the statements, Russian-speaking respondents were overwhelmingly against.
Compared to the survey two years ago, attitudes towards LGBT rights have become significantly more positive, especially among the non-Estonian speaking population. Across the population as a whole, there has been a more positive development in the last two years on adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Although attitudes towards the rights of gay people have notably improved among speakers of other languages over the years, their stance is still much more negative.
65% of respondents support or somewhat support the Registered Partnership Act. 71% of Estonian speakers and 50% of those speaking other languages support the Registered Partnership Act. The 20-29 age group is the most supportive with 86% of respondents supporting the Registered Partnership Act.
A considerable part of the respondents (20-33%) did not express a clear opinion with regard to specific questions concerning the Registered Partnership Act, but among those who did, the number of respondents who agreed was significantly larger than those who disagreed in the case of all statements.
Today, 53 per cent of Estonian people support marriage equality. This is 6 percentage points more than two years ago. Considering that 34% of people were in favour and 60% were against marriage equality in 2012, progress over the decade has been rapid and one-way.