More than half of British Muslims believe homosexuality should be outlawed in the country, a survey has revealed. In contrast, a mere 5% of the general population thought the same way, highlighting stark differences in opinion on the matter between British Muslims and the wider general public.
While a majority of British Muslims had a sense of belonging in the country and were keen to integrate into society, they preferred Islamic education for their children and Islamic laws to govern them, the study has revealed.
An ICM survey of 1,000 British Muslims showed that 52% disagreed that homosexuality should be legal in Britain, while 18% agreed. In contrast, a control sample of 1,008 people who represented the general population of the UK revealed that 5% were opposed to homosexuality.
The survey also revealed that 47% of the British Muslims oppose a gay person teaching in school, compared to just 14% of the general population.
In response to the survey's findings, Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women's Network UK, said nearly 50% of Muslims thinking homosexuality should not be illegal signalled a change in attitudes. "Although they may not accept it from a religious point of view, [Muslims] accept that people should be able to have the freedom and right not be discriminated against and live their lives," she was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
The poll showed that 23% of British Muslims supported the introduction of sharia law in some parts of the UK. While 39% agreed that "wives should always obey their husbands", only 5% of the general populace who participated in the poll supported the same notion. Around 31% of the British Muslims polled said it was acceptable for a British Muslim man to have more than one wife, compared to 8% of the wider population.
When asked about the sense of belonging they felt for the country, 86% of British Muslims said they had a strong sense of belonging in Britain, compared to 83% of the general population. A majority of the British Muslim respondents, or 91%, said they felt a strong sense of belonging in their local area, compared to 76% of the general UK populace. About 88% of the British Muslims polled said Britain was a good place for followers of the Islamic faith to live in, with 78% in favour of integrating into British life with the exception of Islamic schooling and some Islamic laws.
Trevor Philips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is set to present a documentary called "What British Muslims Really Think" on Channel 4 based on the findings of this poll. He said: "The integration of Britain's Muslims will probably be the hardest task we've ever faced. It will require the abandonment of the milk-and-water multiculturalism still so beloved of many, and the adoption of a far more muscular approach to integration.
"Hearing what British Muslims themselves think, rather than listening to those purporting to speak on their behalf, is critical if we are to prevent the establishment of a nation within our nation. Many of the results will be troubling to Muslims and non-Muslims alike — and the analysis of the age profile shows us that the social attitudes revealed are unlikely to change quickly," Philips added.
The poll was commissioned by Channel 4 and was conducted between 25 April and 31 May 2015 through face-to-face, at-home interviews of British Muslims and telephonic interviews of respondents of the general UK populace.
The poll also revealed that 4% of British Muslims sympathised with people who carried out suicide bombings and an equal percentage sympathised with people committing acts of terror as a form of political protest.