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Panorama
Britons support unmarried couples
Nine out of ten Britons believe that unmarried couples with children should have the same rights as married couples, according to a new survey.

The poll, conducted for BBC One's Panorama programme, showed that 90% of people are in favour of better protection for unmarried families who are "living in sin".

The current laws give little legal protection for co-habitees.

Fathers could have no say in the upbringing of their children, while long term partners could be entitled to nothing in the event of a split.

The NOP World survey also showed that a majority of people are in favour of giving unmarried couples without children extra legal rights, provided they have lived together for two years.

Living together

Is it ok for people to live together rather than get married?
Yes: 84%
No: 12%
Don't know: 3%

Two-thirds of those asked (66%) thought this was a good idea.

The public also gave the thumbs up to the concept when they were asked if it was acceptable for couples to live together without tying the knot.

More than four out of five of those who were asked (84%) said it was ok to co-habit, with just 12% saying it was wrong.

The highest number of people who thought co-habiting was wrong came from the 65 and over age bracket (32%), while the lowest number of objections came from the 25-34 age group (3%).

There is currently a proposal to introduce a register for couples who have lived together for at least six months which would give them greater legal rights than they have at the moment.

The survey found that 74% of people were in favour of such a register.

Gay couples

However, there was a marked difference when the same question was asked regarding single sex couples - only 61% thought the register was a good idea.

More than half of people in the 65 and over age group were against a register for same sex couples.

The majority of those questioned were also concerned at the potential for differences in the law between same sex couples and heterosexual couples.

Almost three quarters of those surveyed (71%) said that it would be wrong for single sex couples to be given increased rights if heterosexual couples were not also given the same rights.

Panorama: The Cost of Living in Sin, will be broadcast on BBC One at 2215 GMT on Sunday, November 24

Panorama logo
 VOTE RESULTS
Would giving unmarried couples equal legal rights undermine marriage?

Yes
 39.93% 

No
 60.07% 

2775 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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