…and that’s just the staff. Predictable punchline aside, YouGov have carried out a new poll for the Spectator looking at changes in sexual morality.

As might be expected, the overwhelming majority (92%) of people think that British society has become more tolerant of all types of sexual conduct since the 1960s. There is rather less consensus over whether this is a good thing or not – 44% of people think it has made people healthier and happier, 31% think it has made people less happy and healthy. There are obvious differences between the generations – 54% of under 25s think the changes have made people happier, with only 16% thinking the opposite. Amongst those born before 1940 65% think the changes have made people less happy, with only 18% thinking the opposite.

Asked about various specific issues, 54% of people think there is too much sex on the television, 71% of people think there should be tighter restrictions on what sexual material is available on the internet, 46% think adultery is morally wrong, 20% think homosexuality is morally wrong, 18% think using pornography is morally wrong, 31% thinking making pornography is morally wrong, 32% think prostution is morally wrong.

There are some interesting contrasts between the genders and different age groups. Pornography and sex on the television and internet are viewed far more negatively by women than men. Only 38% of men think there is too much sex on television while 15% think there isn’t enough; 69% of women think there is too much sex on television, only 1% think there isn’t enough. Support for greater restrictions on sexual content on the internet is 53% to 41% amongst men, but 86% to 10% amongst women. 9% of men think using pornography is morally wrong, 27% of women do.

In contrast, women are far more tolerant of homosexuality – 14% of women think homosexuality is morally wrong compared to 27% of men.

Contrasts between the generations are predictably mostly cases of older generations being far more conservative. People born before 1940 are far more likely to object to sex on the television or the internet and far more likely to think homosexuality or pornography are morally wrong than those born after 1980. That isn’t to say that young people are entirely liberal – even amongst those born after 1980 37% think there is too much sex on the television, 59% think there should be greater restriction of sex on the internet and 15% think homosexuality is morally wrong.

There is also one striking exception to the trend – young people are far less tolerant of adultery. While 52% of people born before 1940 think adultery is morally wrong, the baby boom generation is far more liberal – only 39% of those born in the 1940s think it is wrong and only 38% of those born in the 50s think so. After that, it once again begins to climb until amongst those born after 1980, 60% think adultery is morally wrong. While young people are far more accepting of pornography and homosexuality, they do seem to have more conservative (or at least, more idealistic) views of the sanctity of marriage.

On the subject of marriage YouGov also asked if people thought that marriage was the best environment for children to be brought up within – 65% agreed, with men and older people more likely to agree (although there was a slight increase in agreement amongst those born after 1980, though not really large enough to be significant) – and if people thought divorce was too easy, 41% agreed, 5 disagreed.


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