Insights from the dashboard: Religion and LGBTQ+ in the UK

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Insights from the dashboard: Religion and LGBTQ+ in the UK

The EARS dashboard is a collection of summaries from European media articles on religion and society. Between 1 January and 31 July of 2022, a total of 130 article summaries were added on the topic of LGBTQ+. Out of these, 16 summaries were about the UK. We were able to discover a number of insights into how the topic of LGBTQ+ has appeared in the UK and how this has been reported in the news.

Media coverage on LGBTQ+ and the UK

Media coverage of the topic of LGBTQ+ in relation to the UK was particularly high in March 2022, driven largely by how Catholic or Protestant communities or their leaders reacted to issues related to the topic of LGBTQ+.

Religion LGTBQ+ UK Dashboard

This media coverage, as shown in the word cloud below, has mainly focused on religious reactions to the LGBTQ+ community in relation to the family in the UK, e.g. children at school or same-sex marriage.

Religion LGTBQ+ UK Dashboard

What religious reactions in the UK tell us about LGBTQ+ in the future

A closer look at the media coverage shows that LGBTQ+ rights are facing different religious reactions in the UK. Opposition to these rights is primarily from Catholic or non-denominational communities and institutions, while support for these is primarily from Protestant communities and institutions. For example, a visit by author Simon James Green to a Catholic boys’ secondary school was cancelled in March 2022 because his LGBTQ+ themed teen fiction was considered “outside the scope of what is permissible in a Catholic school.”[1]

Protestant support for LGBTQ+ rights was demonstrated by votes by the Church of Scotland[2] and the world’s oldest Methodist church[3] to allow same-sex marriages for the first time. Given their timeline largely coincided with Pride Month (June) 2022 in the UK, these votes were arguably acts of solidarity with LGBTQ+ rights.

Based on this analysis, it can be argued that LGBTQ+ rights in the UK depend on religious views in the country. This is supported by a review of other topics relevant to the LGBTQ+ topic in the UK. As shown below, tolerance in relation to the LGBTQ+ topic in the UK overlaps significantly with religious institutions in the UK. In other words, religious institutions are likely to determine tolerance in relation to LGBTQ+ rights in the future.

Religion LGTBQ+ UK Dashboard

Other factors that are affecting the LGBTQ+ community in the UK are identity, democracy, and tension. Democracy in the UK appears to have no overlap with the role of religious institutions. It can, therefore, be argued that the position of religious institutions in the UK is not likely to be significantly shaped by democratic views or developments in the future. Based on recent studies,[4] this indicates that religious reactions to LGBTQ+ rights may be shaped by conservative values that do not necessarily follow or even oppose democratic trends.

Identity and tension do, however, overlap with religious institutions. People’s concerns for their identity drive at least part of the religious opposition or support for LGBTQ+ rights. It can, therefore, be argued that shifts in identity will determine in part how the UK’s religious communities and their institutions react to LGBTQ+ issues in the future.

Learn more on the EARS dashboard

The EARS dashboard allows you to gain insight into a large number of topics, including LGBTQ+. It is a free tool that allows you to make connections like those described above, and to find out about relationships between interesting subjects across Europe. Please visit the dashboard to learn more.

Muhammad Faisal Khalil

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[1] Catholic church bans visit by gay author to London school | Books | The Guardian

[2] Church of Scotland to allow same-sex marriages – BBC News

[3] World’s oldest Methodist church to allow gay marriage – BBC News

[4] Religion can both hurt and enhance democratic attitudes. | EUROPP