Survey provides glimpse into nation's soul

  • 2005-08-17
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - For anyone interested in taking a peek at the moral fiber of Estonians, the results of a new survey by the Baltic News Service and Faktum will give you a rare glimpse.

According to the poll, half of Estonian society is tolerant about extramarital relations. More than half are pro-choice and nearly two-thirds oppose homosexual marriage and adoption.

Not surprisingly, the difference of opinion among ethnic Estonians and Russians, who make up approximately 25 percent of the country's population, was stark.

Regarding infidelity, 50 percent of respondents said they were tolerant, while 45 percent condemned cheating, and 5 percent were unable to give an opinion. Among Russians, however, as many as 70 percent said society was tolerant toward extramarital sexual relations.

Among ethnic Estonians, only 41 percent of respondents said extramarital affairs were acceptable.

The contrast was even more striking among genders. If 39 percent of ethnic Estonian women felt they could tolerate extramarital relations, then 67 percent of ethnic Russian women could. The respective figures for Estonian and Russian-speaking men were 43 and 73 percent.

The most tolerant attitude toward cheating was among those aged 18-34 and singles (65 percent), while elderly respondents in the 55-74 age group overwhelmingly condemned extramarital affairs.

Opinions on a woman's right to have an abortion were less vivid, but curious nonetheless. More than half of respondents found that abortion was an acceptable birth control measure, with ethnic Estonians accepting the procedure more readily than Russians.

Fifty-three percent of respondents believe that society should be tolerant toward abortion, and 40 percent regarded it as wrong.

Still, if 48 percent of Estonia's Russians found abortions acceptable, then among Estonians the number was 56 percent. Women were more tolerant (57 percent), as were respondents aged 35-54 (59 percent), divorced respondents (66 percent) and respondents with higher education (64 percent).

Whether or not women had children did not affect their attitude on abortion.

Finally, the survey, which Faktum carried out on a commission from the Baltic News Service on Aug. 4 's 8, showed that Estonian residents are strongly opposed to homosexual marriage and adoption rights for gays and lesbians.

Nearly two-thirds, or 62 percent of respondents, were against homosexual marriages. Only 30 percent would permit them.

Russian respondents were much less tolerant, with only 19 percent saying they approved homosexual marriages. Sixty-nine percent were against.

Among Estonians, 35 percent found homosexual marriages permissible, while 59 percent were against the idea.

Women are slightly more tolerant, with 34 percent saying they would not be against same-sex marriages.

Among respondents who found that society should tolerate homosexuals, 52 percent would allow homosexual marriages, and 27 percent wouldn't.

As far as adopting rights for gay and lesbian couples, Estonian residents were, not surprisingly, skeptical across the board. Only 23 percent of respondents would support such a right, while 71 percent would be against.

Here, too, ethnic Russians were less tolerant than Estonians, with 76 and 68 percent of these respondents, respectively, against adoption rights for homosexual couples.