A new government survey of the population has revealed more people are identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) than ever before. Conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the research shows the percentage of people who identify as heterosexual on the form has decreased from 94.4% in 2012 (when the government first started publishing the figures) to 93.2% in 2017.
This may sound like a teeny amount, but when you take into account this is the whole goddamn population, that’s 1.1 million people over the age of 16 in the UK who identify as LGB on the official government survey.
Back in 2012, 1.5% of people identified as LGB, and in the most recent survey this has risen to 2%. Of those, 0.7% identify as bisexual and 1.3% as lesbian or gay. Unsurprisingly, more women than men identified as bi, too.
It is 16-24 year olds who are most likely to identify as LGB, and it was London residents who were most likely to be LGB. Plus, 69.4% (around 7 in 10) of those who selected lesbian, gay or bisexual on the survey were single and had never been married or in a civil partnership. “This reflects the younger age structure of this population, and that legal unions for same-sex couples are relatively new,” commented Paula Guy, the statistician for ONS.
A further 0.6% of people in the UK identified as ‘other’, which means they didn’t consider themselves to fit into the heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian categories. Since 2012, this proportion has increased from 0.3%. And, a further 4.1% refused, or did not know how, to identify themselves.
This year, 6% of people from mixed or multiple ethnic groups identified themselves as gay, lesbian and bisexual. Among the white ethnic group, the percentage identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2012 to 2.1%.
“While there has been an increase in the number of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bi since 2012, it’s important to remember that many LGB people still aren’t able to be open about their sexual orientation with friends, family and colleagues. We know that only half of lesbian, gay and bi people (46%) feel able to be open about their sexual orientation to everyone in their family, and nearly one in five LGB people (18%) aren’t open about their identity with anyone at work.”
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