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Britons 'more liberal since 1980s'

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The UK has become increasingly liberal over the last 25 years with people growing more tolerant of homosexuality and cohabitation, a report has said.

The British Social Attitudes study found more than a third of people still believe homosexual sex was “always” or “mostly” wrong - whereas in 1983 some 62% of those quizzed said homosexual sex was wrong.

The UK also became far more tolerant of unmarried couples living together.

Some 45% of those questioned said it “makes no difference to children whether their parents are married to each other or just living together”.

Only 38% of people expressed this view in 1998.

The survey also looked at political views: some 39% of people supported increased taxes and spending on health and education, the lowest level since 1984 and down from 62% in 1997.

And 38% thought the government should redistribute income from the better-off to the less well-off - down from 51% in 1994.

The author, Andy Ross, said: “In general, we are becoming more liberal and tolerant. But our attitudes are also strongly shaped by what we see in our daily lives.

“This is why people in their 60s and older have become more tolerant than we might expect about issues like cohabitation.

“Perhaps becoming a grandparent of a child born outside marriage might be leading older people to take a more liberal view on this issue.”

The British Social Attitudes survey from the National Centre for Social Research has been conducted every year since 1983.

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