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Pew Research shows drop in support for gay marriage in USGetty

Homophobia appears to be increasing in the US, with half of all Americans now believing that being gay is a sin.

A survey of over 2,000 Americans, conducted by the Pew Research Centre, looked at public attitudes about religion in public life.

It found there was a 5% drop in support for gay marriage in comparison to results from February. Findings showed 49% are in favour of gay marriage and 41% opposed – similar to levels seen in 2013.

"It is too early to know if this modest decline is an anomaly or the beginning of a reversal or levelling off in attitudes toward gay marriage, after years of steadily increasing public acceptance," Pew said.

"Moreover, when the February poll and the current survey are combined, the 2014 yearly average level of support for same-sex marriage stands at 52%, roughly the same as the 2013 yearly average [50%]."

Findings also showed that 50% of the public believe homosexuality is a sin – a rise from 45% last year. A further 47% of people believe businesses should be able to refuse service to gay customers if they have religious objections to their sexuality.

Asked if a wedding business should have to provide services to a gay couple, the survey showed more men than women thought they should have the right to refuse service. White people were also more likely to have this belief than black or Hispanic people.

"The survey also finds a close link between views of whether homosexual behaviour is a sin and requiring businesses to provide services for same-sex weddings. Among those who say homosexual behaviour is a sin, six in 10 say that businesses should not be required to provide services for same-sex weddings.

"But among those who say homosexual behaviour is not a sin, two-thirds say businesses should be required to service same-sex weddings."

Findings also showed, however, that the public is aware of the problems facing gay people in the US. The survey revealed 65% of people said there is a lot of discrimination against gays and lesbians, more than Muslims (59%) and black people (54%).