A clear majority of West Australians support gay marriage, according to the latest Westpoll.
The poll of 400 people, conducted last week, reveals 61 per cent of respondents are in favour of gay marriage compared with 33 per cent who are opposed. Six per cent were undecided.
Support for gay marriage among people under 35 is even stronger, with 77 per cent in favour and just 16 per cent against.
But there are divisions along gender, geographic and political lines, with women, Perth residents, ALP and Greens voters more supportive than men, country residents and coalition voters.
The poll was taken against the backdrop of internal debate within the Federal Labor Party on the issue and the introduction of a private member’s Bill by South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to give same-sex couples the right to marry.
The Westpoll shows support is strongest among Greens voters, with 97 per cent in favour of gay marriage and 3 per cent opposed.
Seventy per cent of Labor voters are in favour and 25 per cent against, while 49 per cent of coalition voters are in favour and 45 per cent against.
Interestingly, the poll suggests WA women (70 per cent in favour, 35 per cent opposed) are much more supportive of gay marriage than men (52 per cent in favour, 41 per cent opposed).
Respondents in country WA were the only group where opposition at 48 per cent outweighed support at 46 per cent.
State Greens MP Giz Watson said she believed it was a “matter of time” before the Federal ban on gay marriage was overturned.
Ms Watson was not surprised by the results, which reflected sentiment she had detected at pro-gay marriage rallies.
“Young people in particular get that (gay marriage) is not a threat to the community or to anyone, really,” she said.
Labor leader Eric Ripper said he was proud of his party’s record of extending equal rights to gay West Australians. While gay marriage was a Federal issue, the Barnett Government should establish a relationships register to help gay couples exercise their rights under WA law.
Premier Colin Barnett, who has said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman while supporting the right of gay couples to enter civil agreements, declined to comment yesterday.