British statistics agency finds 1.5% of UK population is L/G/B

by on September 25, 2010  •  In Social science

The UK's official statistics bureau has released the first results of a large household survey finding that 1.5% of Britons identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. (See table below.) The Office for National Statistics compiled surveys involving 450,000 individual respondents – the largest social survey ever undertaken by the ONS and second only to the British census in size. Individuals over the age of 16 were asked either in person or in a telephone call which option best describes "how you think of yourself": heterosexual/straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or other. Applied to the entire population, the percentages would mean that approximately 725,000 persons in the U.K. would self-identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Gay groups expressed skepticism that interviews conducted on doorsteps or over the phone would elicit completely candid responses. Those Brits are so understated. Well, given these data, maybe it's because they're surrounded by something let's just call heterosexual culture.


Sexual Identity by Gender, April 2009 to March 2010 


                                                  Men                 Women              All adults 

Heterosexual / Straight                 94.6                   94.9                     94.8  

Gay / Lesbian                                1.3                     0.6                       1.0 

Bisexual                                        0.3                     0.7                       0.5 

Other                                            0.5                     0.5                       0.5 

Don’t know / Refusal                      2.8                     2.9                       2.8 

No response                                   0.6                     0.4                       0.5 


The ONS also published a fascinating background report to accompany the data that describes the methodology used and compares these results to those from similar statistical studies. Within the UK, the percentage of persons identified as LGB has ranged from 1.1 to 2.4 in prior studies. Internationally, the highest population rates have been recorded in health surveys conducted in Vermont (4.6) and California (4.1); the lowest in North Dakota (1.0) and Norway (1.2).

If nothing else, the wide range in results and the scarcity of studies demonstrate how important it is to get more and better data.


2 Responses to British statistics agency finds 1.5% of UK population is L/G/B

  1. Charlie September 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    DC had a health survey that showed higher percentages.

    link to

    A small excerpt

    ** 8.3% of male respondents self identified as gay, 2.0% of female respondents self identified as
    lesbian, 2.3% of male respondents self identified as bisexual/other and 2.2% of female
    respondents identified as bisexual/other.
    ** 9.0% of white respondents, 2.0% of African-American respondents and 5.3% of Hispanic
    respondents identified as gay or lesbian.

  2. Nan Hunter September 28, 2010 at 12:51 AM

    Thanks very much for posting about this – I will pass it along to my demographer friends.

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