Over half of Australians with migrant backgrounds support same-sex marriage: poll

Over half of Australians with migrant backgrounds support same-sex marriage: poll

A new poll is suggesting over half of Australians with migrant backgrounds support same-sex marriage.

The poll, commissioned by SBS and conducted by research group Essential Media, indicates 54 per cent of respondents born outside Australia agree that people of the same sex should be allowed to marry.

The number is even higher among Australians whose parents were born overseas.

An online survey of more than 1,000 people was conducted last week, asking them to agree or disagree with a number of statements about same-sex marriage.

Overall, 61 per cent of respondents said people of the same sex should be allowed to marry - and the results from migrants and migrant -background respondents revealed an interesting pattern.

Of those born overseas, 54 per cent said they agreed with same-sex marriage, compared to 66 per cent of those whose parents were born overseas.

Peter Lewis, from Essential Media which conducted the poll, says it's the first time they've asked questions about the issue, which were cross-referenced with where respondents and their parents came from.

"It appears that on these issues that people who are born overseas, they're a little less likely to agree than the rest of the population, but their children are more likely to agree. So, a kind of interesting bell curve coming out there. Once you're second-generation Australian, in a way you're more integrated into that particular debate."

Mr Lewis says while the 54 per cent figure is lower than Australia's overall support, it doesn't suggest that same-sex marriage is a more conservative issue among migrants.

Last year, Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells told a Press Club luncheon that migrants would oppose it because the importance of marriage as an institution was common to all faiths and cultures.

"Same-sex marriage is not a priority, but if it is made a priority, it would raise strong opposition to the faith of many Australians, including especially our migrant communities who consider marriage a bedrock institution. Hence I argued strongly that a Coalition policy that directly supports same-sex marriage could place under threat some of our most marginal seats which have disproportionately high religious and migrant communities."

Dr Shirleene Robinson, from the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group, says the Essential Media poll is one of several that contradicts the Senator's claims.

"Members of migrant communities, they have gay and lesbian people in their families, they have gay and lesbian people in their workplaces, so there's no reason to suggest they would be particularly opposed to it in significantly different numbers to the rest of Australia. We're the last part of the former British world that doesn't have marriage equality, where a huge chunk of people are from. That certainly does make us stand out a little bit, and I think certainly a lot of people are comparing Australia to those other countries they're from and thinking it's time to get this done here."

But Dr James Jupp, a migration analyst from Australian National University, says a much bigger sample size would be needed to paint an accurate picture of the country's various migrant groups.

"The category overseas is a very broad one which includes people who come from very strongly religious countries, like the Philippines for example, and then the very largest number of people come from Britain, which is not a particularly religious country, and so on. Is there a difference between the overseas-born and the local Australian-born? The answer seems to be 'not really'. I don't see any evidence in these results at all that you could talk about overseas people being different from people who are born here, and none of them seem to be terribly excited by the issue."

The poll has indicated that same-sex marriage won't be playing such a big role in the upcoming election.

More than half of overall respondents disagreed when asked if the issue was important to them.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent of those born overseas said party policies on same-sex marriage would not influence their vote.

Even more indicated a candidate's sexual orientation, or their stance on the issue, would not make them less likely to vote for them.



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