Attitudes towards LGBT topics in Estonia

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 and 2021 by Turu-uuringute AS.

The 2021 survey demonstrates that the residents of Estonia have adopted a considerably more positive attitude towards lesbians and gay people compared with two years ago. This change in attitude has occurred among both the Estonian-speaking population and speakers of other languages.

Attitudes

For the first time, more than half of the respondents consider same-sex attraction completely or somewhat acceptable (53%). The number of Estonian residents who consider same-sex attraction acceptable has risen by 12% compared with 2019. 61% of the Estonian-speaking population and 38% of speakers of other languages regard same-sex attraction as acceptable. People aged 15-19 are the most open-minded: 73% of them think that same-sex attraction is a normal part of society.

42% of respondents consider same-sex attraction completely or somewhat unacceptable. Differences in attitudes are mostly related to age, native language and level of education. Respondents mostly regard same-sex attraction as unacceptable because they think that it is abnormal or unpleasant.

Respondents continue to believe that society is more intolerant towards same-sex attraction than it actually is. A mere 34% thought that society finds same-sex attraction acceptable.

Everyday communication with gay people (salesmen, doctors and someone in a group of people) is becoming increasingly acceptable year after year for the majority of respondents. However, residents find it somewhat less acceptable if same-sex attraction affects their children’s lives (relevant TV shows or films playing in the homes of their friends who have gay parents and gay teachers). At the same time, a ground-breaking development has taken place here as well: those who considered such influence unacceptable used to prevail, but respondents who find it acceptable are now in the majority.

Similarly to previous surveys, there is a marked difference in the opinions of speakers of Estonian and Russian. While those who agreed with the statements prevailed among Estonian speakers, Russian speakers largely disagreed with them. Nevertheless, compared with the survey of 2019, the attitudes of speakers of other languages have improved by 10% on average.

Rights

In comparison with the survey two years ago, attitudes towards the rights of LGBT people have become much more positive. The understanding that allowing marriage between same-sex partners would decrease the value of marriage between a man and a woman is receding.

There is a distinct difference based on sex and age in questions concerning the right of same-sex couples to adopt: women agree, while men tend to disagree. Respondents under the age of 30 largely approve.

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 resolute: resentment prevails in connection with same-sex marriage and adoption issues. On average, they are also 20% less positive than Estonian-speaking residents when it comes to other questions.

Registered Partnership Act

The number of those supporting the Registered Partnership Act continues to rise. 64% of respondents support or somewhat support the Act (this indicator was 49% in 2019) and 29% are against or somewhat against it (39% in 2019). 72% of Estonian speakers and 47% of those speaking other languages support the Registered Partnership Act. The 20-29 age group is the most supportive with 82% of respondents supporting the 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. Furthermore, the number of respondents who agree with all statements has risen over time. While opinions concerning the adoption of the Registered Partnership Act’s implementing acts were equally divided two years ago, there are now more supporters than opponents.

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