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Scandalous Sex

Where's the line for public officials? Here's a world of opinion.

By Angus Reid 19 Oct 2006 | TheTyee.ca

Sex, as always, is big news. But lately, it's been bigger than usual. In Vancouver, the trial of a former secondary school teacher accused of a variety sexual escapades with his students has been the biggest story all week. While, in the U.S., the alleged text-message grooming of under-age Congressional pages may just tip the mid-term elections.

But, for the public, all sex scandals are not created equal. Polls show, for example, that people are more tolerant towards infidelity and sexual harassment than they are towards consensual homosexual sex or sex with young people.

Here's what public opinion from around the globe says about sex, politics and the personal lives of politicians:

In the U.S., history has been kind to the only head of state impeached for infidelity. Bill Clinton ranks behind only Ronald Reagan for popularity among the last four presidents. For more info, click here.

Last year, almost half of all Americans disagreed with the final verdict in the Michael Jackson case. For more info, click here.

In New Jersey, governor Jim McGreevey resigned after acknowledging he had an affair with a man. Forty eight per cent of respondents in the Garden State thought he made the right decision. For more info, click here.

Last year, as the Catholic Church began preparations to choose a new pope, 86 per cent of Americans demanded action to address the problem of sexual abuse by priests. For more info, click here.

In Australia, the public turned its back on governor-general Peter Hollingworth after it was revealed that he allowed a priest guilty of child abuse to remain as the Archbishop of Brisbane. He resigned just days after the poll was released. For more info, click here.

Britain has had its share of scandals, both royal and political. A year after Prince Charles tied the knot for a second time, almost two-thirds of respondents still believe Camilla Parker Bowles should not become Queen. For more info, click here.

The affair between British home secretary David Blunkett and an American woman included several embarrassing accusations of influence peddling, but more than half of all Britons believed it was not enough to force his resignation from cabinet. For more info, click here.

In Israel, since August, Israelis have been asking their president, Moshe Katzav, to step down over allegations of sexual harassment and corruption. For more info, click here.

In the Netherlands, the public was shocked when a party promising to decriminalize child pornography was launched. For more info, click here.

South African politician Jacob Zuma was acquitted of a rape charge in May, after claiming that he was "seduced" by the 31-year-old daughter of a friend. But almost two-thirds of respondents are opposed to Zuma becoming president. For more info, click here.

In Canada, political corruption would be the biggest problem for an elected politician, but most voters would forgive a drinking problem. For more info, click here.

This Tyee series shares with you the research conducted by the Angus Reid Global Monitor, the Vancouver-based leaders in public opinion analysis. TrendWatch columns offer quick, concise context for developing stories in B.C. and beyond.  [Tyee]

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