Thursday 18 July 2019

Ireland's millennials are sexually liberated - and losing their religion

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Lynne Kelleher

Ireland's younger generation are among the most sexually liberal millennials in Europe - and are losing their religion.

The nation's young people have given a snapshot of their take on 21st century life as part of one of the biggest pan-European surveys into the attitudes of more than a million millennials across Europe.

In the two-part RTÉ2 series 'Generation What?', Irish millennials answer 149 questions from sex to politics, to media and equality, in the survey of 18 to 34-year-olds in 14 countries.

The Irish were the most likely of all nationalities surveyed to have had sex in a public place - with 55pc saying they have braved the elements to have sex.

The programme-makers suggest the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' effect could have influenced the 15pc of Irish millennials who said they had tried S&M, which is second only to Greece.

Three out of 10 Irish millennials said they had made love with someone from the same sex, or they would like to.

Historian Dr Ciara Meehan
Historian Dr Ciara Meehan

Sociologist Kevin Myers, who helped analyse the results along with the Department of Sociology in UCD, said the results showed sexual liberal attitudes in young Irish people.

"Among male participants, 78pc answered they wouldn't be happy without sex. For females it was a slightly smaller number, at 70pc. We can see that there does seem to be a movement towards much more liberal attitudes to sexual preferences and sex acts in general.

"30pc answered they had made love with someone of the same sex, or they would like to.

"Of this, males were more likely to have made love with someone of the same sex, but women were the ones most likely to want to.

"This does give us the impression that Irish moral attitudes towards sexuality are increasingly liberal."

Meanwhile, 80pc of young Irish people said they would be happy without a religious belief.

When it came to what community they felt they belonged to, out of eight options, nationality was at the top of the list, with only 7pc saying religion was the most important to them.


"Belonging to a religious organisation didn't seem to be of particular interest to millennials. It is a common pattern through (countries) in the study," said Mr Myers.

Six out of 10 millennials agreed that Ireland is still a long way from gender equality - but this figure was split into more than two-thirds of women, but less than half of men.

Dr Ciara Meehan, an expert in modern Irish history, said several key factors have influenced the minds of this generation. "I think a lot of the big changes date back to the 1990s. If you think about the legalisation of divorce, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the election of Mary Robinson as the first female President of Ireland, and the Good Friday Agreement," she said.

"This millennial crop is the first to be completely immersed in digital and social media, and as a result of that they are much more globalised citizens than previous generations."

'Generation What?' will be aired at 10.30pm tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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