As many Canadians oppose changing the definition of marriage as support it, a new poll suggests, although a sizeable majority believe same-sex unions should be equal to heterosexual marriages.

The poll, conducted in late August by NFO CF group, shows that 65 per cent of respondents agreed that same-sex couples in a committed relationship should be treated the same as committed heterosexual couples. Twenty-five per cent disagreed.

QUICK FACTS

52% say there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality 57% say that homosexual marriage does not threaten the institution of marriage 65% say homosexual couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples

At the same time, only 46 per cent said they support the idea of changing the legal definition of marriage.

The pollsters conducted telephone interviews with 1,015 Canadian adults in the last week of August.

Just over half of those polled said there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality, and 57 per cent disagree that allowing same-sex couples to marry is a threat to the institution of marriage.

The numbers show significant differences when broken down by gender, region, political affiliation and age.

"Younger Canadians really are on side with gay marriage and there's a real danger that this will alienate youth even further," said Richard Jenkins, of NFO CF, a social research group based in Toronto.

The poll suggests that 61 per cent of Canadians younger than 35 support same-sex marriage, while 62 per cent of those older than 35 oppose it.

Women are more likely than men to support same-sex marriages.

People on the Prairies tend to be the most opposed.

Supporters of the various political parties tend to line up with the party positions, with Liberals about equally divided, the Alliance strongly against gay marriage, the Bloc Qubcois and the New Democrats in favour, and about 44 per cent of Tory supporters preferring a non-marriage alternative.

Bev Desjarlais is a notable exception. The Manitoba MP has rankled fellow NDP members by speaking out against same-sex marriage.