12 October 2018, The Tablet

Most Catholics want change in approach towards LGBT people, finds poll

Survey findings 'a clarion call to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church from its members that it is time to change their approach to LGBT people'

Most Catholics want change in approach towards LGBT people, finds poll

An LGBT choir sings outside the Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin Aug. 23
CNS photo/Clodagh Kilcoyne, Reuters

New poll figures released this week in Rome show a majority of practising Catholics in the world’s eight biggest Catholic countries want the Church to adopt a more positive approach towards LGBT people and to change its teaching in this area.

The polling, carried out by YouGov for the Equal Future 2018 Campaign, was conducted in Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Philippines, United States, France, Spain and Italy. Collectively these countries comprise half of the world’s total population of baptised Catholics. A total of 9,606 people were surveyed, roughly 1,200 people in each of the eight countries.

Equal Future 2018 is a coalition of LGBT, progressive catholic religious, children and young peoples’ groups from over 60 countries worldwide. The coalition says its aim is to stop children and young people being damaged by the sense that being LGBT is a misfortune or a disappointment.

Campaign director, Tiernan Brady, who headed up the same sex marriage campaign in Ireland in 2015 and in Australia in 2017, launched the poll findings in Rome.

He described the survey findings as “a clarion call to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church from its members that it is time to change their approach to LGBT people.”

The results, he said, “clearly show that catholic people across the globe believe that the current teaching and approach of the hierarchy towards LGBT people is damaging to children and young people. “

Highlighting how ordinary people in the pews “are leading the way on LGBT issues” he said it was “time the upper management caught up with their flock” because a clear majority of catholics want the Church to change its approach.

“This is not a call for change from outside the Church – it is from its own people,” the LGBT campaigner added.

The poll shows that younger people were more likely to be supporters of change in the Church’s teaching. However, older people were only slightly less likely to support it. 62 percent of 18 to 29 years olds support change with 13 percent disagreeing, while 58 percent of catholics over 30 agree as opposed to 17 percent who disagree.

One of the questions people were polled on was: ‘The Catholic Church should consider its current teaching on LGBT issues to help support the mental health and well-being of children and young people.’

The poll shows that 63 percent of practicing catholics agreed and 16 percent disagreed. This compared to 65 percent of baptised catholics (who may no longer be practicing) who agreed and 15 percent who disagreed. A total of 59 percent of the general population agreed – lower than the number of practicing catholics.

Explaining the reason for the Equal Future campaign and survey, Tiernan Brady told The Tablet that, “far too many children and young people grow up thinking that if they or someone they know turned out to be LGBT it would be bad luck or a disappointment”.

Equal Future is to pass the poll findings to Vatican Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri who is one of those overseeing the Church’s Synod on Young People which runs until 28 October in Rome.

The figures were released to coincide with World Mental Health day because according to Mr Brady, “There is no shortage of research to tell us that the stress caused to LGBT people by marginalisation and anti-LGBT attitudes is real and profoundly damaging.”

He highlighted how young LGBT people are significantly more likely to self-harm or consider suicide.  “The challenge we face is for the hierarchy to listen to the voice of the people in the church,” he said.

Asked about the UK Supreme Court’s ruling in the Ashers Bakery case, Tiernan Brady told The Tablet, “Personally, I believe the Ashers case is a balanced judgement. It reaffirmed that nobody should ever be refused service because of their sexual orientation and that is to be welcomed. The campaign for LGBT equality is a campaign about inclusion and that inclusion needs to be for everyone. It must not be a campaign about one side of society trying to beat the other, we all have to share the same communities, workplaces and kitchen tables.”

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