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World News

UK one of the most socially liberal countries in the world on abortion, homosexuality and casual sex

by Sophie Drew

New research suggests the UK is one of the most socially liberal countries in the world.

The study, published as part of the World Values Survey, asked participants how they felt about a number of social issues, including abortion, prostitution and casual sex.

The data was then transferred into a ranking by the Policy Institute at Kings College in London.

Consistently, the UK was one of the top three most socially liberal nations in their approach to divorce, homosexuality, abortion and casual sex.

They were also the most likely to say suicide or euthanasia was justifiable.

Nick Spencer, Senior Fellow at Theos, analysed the data published and believes it could suggest a turn away from traditional Christian values, but that is not likely to be the whole story.

He told Premier Christian News: “For example, if you look at issues like divorce, abortion, and euthanasia, or having casual sex, those countries that tend to be more socially liberal, tend to be ones that are less religious.

“So even more socially liberal than us on these issues are countries like Sweden, and Norway, and France, and occasionally Canada as well.

“If you look within the nations within the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, for example, is less socially liberal on these issues, than England, Scotland and Wales.

“So taken together, those facts tend to suggest that some of this is out playing people's religious beliefs in the social sphere.

“At Theos, we did some research a few years ago, looking at how London is simultaneously the most religious place in the country, but also counter-intuitively, perhaps one of the most socially conservative places in the lung in the country.

“So religion plays a part in this, but you don't want to put it all at religions door, because there's much wider research which shows that actually, what tends to drive this is the economy is money, and effectively, the richer, more comfortable people feel. Social liberal views come in on the coattails of that.”

Nigeria was placed last in the ranking, branded the least socially liberal of all the nations surveyed in the study.

The only category in which the UK was deemed less socially liberal was the death penalty. In fact, 20 per cent of British participants said they were in favour of capital punishment, putting the UK just shy of France and Australia (25 per cent) in their approach to the controversial issue.

Reflecting on the data, Nick said: “I kind of think that that might be one of the issues that this is partly driven by tabloid influence.

“For a long time, the tabloids have been a bit vague and ambivalent about attitudes to the death penalty, and it occasionally comes through. There's a legacy of that, but it's no doubt that this is a bit of a bit of an outlier. It doesn't quite fit the overall picture of Britain as a very, very socially liberal country.”

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