Conservatives now have 30% support among LGBT voters, up from 11% at the 2010 election, survey finds
Backing gay marriage has helped David Cameron, but not Nick Clegg, gain extra support from gay and lesbian voters, according to research by PinkNews.co.uk.
The proportion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered voters (LGBT) backing the Conservatives has shot up from 11% at the 2010 election to 30% now, a poll suggests. Two-thirds of respondents said the Conservatives’ support for same-sex marriage had made them view the party more positively.
Yet Clegg’s support for gay marriage does not appear to have stopped gay and lesbian voters abandoning the Lib Dems in droves. In 2010 the Lib Dems were easily the most popular choice for LGBT voters, 39% of whom voted Lib Dem. But now just 13% would vote Lib Dem.
Labour now attracts 38% of the LGBT vote, compared with 27% in 2010, but their 11 percentage point rise among the LGBT electorate is not as large as the Conservatives’ 19 percentage point increase.
The figures come from a poll involving an 864-strong LGBT panel which has been weighted to make it demographically representative and whose members have been tracked since 2010.
The findings are paradoxical because Clegg has been just as vehement in his support for gay marriage as Cameron and Clegg’s party is far more united in its support for the government’s proposal than Cameron’s.
But Cameron may be getting more credit among the LGBT community because his support for equal marriage has involved much greater political risk for him than it has for Clegg. And Clegg may be suffering because his support for gay marriage is not enough to outweigh the multiple factors that have led to support for the Lib Dems among all voters collapsing since 2010.
Although the poll shows Labour ahead among LGBT voters, when respondents were asked whom they would prefer as prime minister, 47% said Cameron and 42% said Miliband. Only 11% said Clegg.
Some 16% of respondents said they liked the Conservative party “a lot more” as a result of Cameron’s support for gay marriage and 48% said they liked it “a little more”.
According to PinkNews, around 8% of the electorate are openly LGBT.
Benjamin Cohen, the publisher of PinkNews, said: “By proposing same-sex marriage, David Cameron has unquestionably improved the standing of the Conservative party among the gay community.
“However, what’s most interesting is that he is considerably more popular than his party within our community. This perhaps reflects the fact that many of the most vocal opponents of introducing this final act of equality for gay people have been Conservative MPs, some of whom represent and have angered the very people who voted in the poll.”
The PinkNews poll also suggests LGBT voters have reservations about the way the government is introducing gay marriage. When offered a choice, 66% said same-sex couples and straight couples should have the option of choosing either civil partnership or marriage, while 22% said civil partnerships should be abolished and marriage should be the only option for all couples.
Only 1% backed the government’s proposal, which is for all couples to have the option of marriage but for civil partnership to remain as an option for same-sex couples only.
The poll also found that 85% of LGBT voters said churches and religious organisations should be allowed to opt into same-sex marriage. Only 13% said they should be forced to offer same-sex marriage.