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Gay marriage and Swedish language most divisive issues for Finns

Legalising gay marriage and demoting Swedish as an official language are the two issues most likely to heatedly divide opinion, according to Yle’s Fragmented Finland Survey.

Miespari laittaa toisilleen sormuksia sormeen.
A third of Finns surveyed are in favour of legalising gay marriage, while a quarter don't feel comfortable with that proposal. Image: Yle

The survey, conducted by pollster Taloustutkimus, gauged respondents’ warmth for the proposition that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. A little over a third of the study’s participants indicated that they were strongly in favour of gay marriage, while almost one quarter said that they strongly opposed the notion.

The issue was particularly divisive across lines of age. The majority of people under 50 wanted marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, while  57 percent of over-65s were against it. Those most supportive of equal marriage rights came from both the highest and lowest paid demographics.

Swedish language issue still fires debate

Mandatory Swedish study in schools has long been a controversial topic for Finns, with the results from this survey proving that the issue still raises hackles for and against. The survey was phrased provocatively: “Swedish should no longer be Finland’s second official language.”

One-third responded that they would like to demote the language from its position as an official language of Finland. Meanwhile, half of the survey’s participants would either strongly or somewhat like to maintain the status quo.

Climate change and gender equality

Finns also had different ideas on what issues are the most important.

Women's equality with men was found to be the most crucial issue. 75 per cent of women feel it’s important, compared to 51 percent of men. The study was based on the statement: “Women in Finland still don’t have equality with men.”

Reducing energy consumption to combat climate change was considered an important item on the list of societal concerns for 59 percent of survey participants. Nearly as many also considered that such a strategy would be successful.

The study was conducted for Yle between October and November last year and involved over 1,000 participants.

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