Same-sex marriage – public debate supported by evidence from young researchers

The Serbian Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue has formed the working group for drafting the Law on Same-Sex Partnerships. Following the request of the Assistant Minister Boris Milićević, researcher Aleksandar Tomašević have made a brief overview of comparative data in the countries of the European Union on citizens’ attitudes toward LGBT population. The purpose of this comparative review is to present EUROSTAT and ESS data relevant for the mentioned topic.

Since 2002, within the standard ESS questionnaire, the attitude of European citizens about the LGBT population has been measured through the degree of (dis)agreement with the following statement: Gay men and lesbians should be free to live their lives as they wish. A five-point scale (1-5) is used to assess compliance with the statement, where the lowest score (1) expresses absolute disagreement, and the highest score (5) absolute agreement for the stated position.

grafikon 1The data show that the average attitude of the Serbian citizens is comparable to the average attitudes of the citizens in Montenegro, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary in those years when the issue of same-sex marriages/partnerships was raised in those countries. Public opinion in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia showed somewhat more positive attitude towards the LGBT population in years when discussion about the same-sex partnership was initiated (Figure 1).


Also, contrary to common conservative argument that giving rights to LGBT population will reduce fertility rates and thus cause the shrinking of the population, EUROSTAT data on the fertility rates of individual European countries and status of LGBT marriage/partnership show no link between these two issues (Figure 2).

Country  Fertility rate Status of same-sex communities
France 1.87 Marriage
Montenegro 1.76 Partnership
Romania 1.76 /
Sweden 1.76 Marriage
Ireland 1.75 Marriage
Denmark 1.73 Marriage
Czech Republic 1.71 Partnership
Iceland 1.71 Marriage
United Kingdom 1.68 Marriage
Estonia 1.67 Partnership
Lithuania 1.63 /
Belgium 1.62 Marriage
Latvia 1.60 /
Slovenia 1.60 Partnership
The Netherlands 1.59 Marriage
Liechtenstein 1.58 Partnership
Germany 1.57 Marriage
Bulgaria 1.56 /
Norway 1.56 Marriage
Hungary 1.55 Partnership
Slovakia 1.54 /
Switzerland 1.52 Partnership
Serbia 1.49 /
Austria 1.47 Marriage
Croatia 1.47 Partnership
Poland 1.46 /
Belarus 1.45 /
North Macedonia 1.42 /
Portugal 1.42 Marriage
Finland 1.41 Marriage
Luxembourg 1.38 Marriage
Albania 1.37 /
Greece 1.35 Partnership
Cyprus 1.32 Partnership
Italy 1.29 Partnership
Spain 1.26 Marriage
Malta 1.23 Marriage


According to Aleksandar Tomasevic: “By analysing these surveys we want to show the value of social research and how having data on citizens attitudes can be useful in policy work. Also, it demonstrates that having comparable data for countries with similar social, political and economic background can be a useful parameter for Serbia and guideline when it comes to sensitive topics such as same-sex partnerships.”

Boris Milicevic, Assistant Minister, adds: “We are very pleased that Serbian young scientists can help in drafting evidence-based legislation using comparative data from European countries.”