Different for Bis: October 2017
Stonewall’s new report on LGBTphobic hate crime came out in September. “Hate Crime And Discrimination” is the result of a YouGov survey of 5,375 people with an interesting breakdown:
“58 per cent of respondents are gay or lesbian, 30 per cent are bi, 9 per cent use a different term to describe their sexual orientation and two per cent are straight”
Figures were then weighted to allow for sample skew – because for example 50% of participants were male and 41% female.
It didn’t separate out the bis much but did note:
One in five lesbians (21 per cent) and gay men (19 per cent) experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year because of their sexual orientation compared to one in six bi men (16 per cent) and bi women (14 per cent)
The report’s authors contrast the figures with previous reports, noting that as this is the first time they have consciously included trans people’s experiences, there are a lot of new figures that are harder to compare and contrast.
Yet the trans experience here is the most consistently stark. 16% of cis LGB people surveyed said they adjust how they dress because of fear of discrimination and harassment; among trans respondents that number rises to 40%.
We get perhaps a flavour of the mix of gendered partners of respondents when it comes to showing affection to a significant other in public:
More than a third of LGBT people (36 per cent) say they aren’t comfortable walking down the street while holding their partner’s hand. Three in five gay men (58 per cent) don’t feel comfortable doing so, compared to two in five lesbians (40 per cent), three in ten bi men (29 per cent), and one in six bi women (16 per cent)
The figures aren’t there but I suspect part of that for bis is whether we are ‘passing’ as straight or as gay dependent on how our and our partner’s genders are read.
An issue I always have with hate crime statistics is that many of us, I think, ‘edit’ our lives to be safer. If that’s the end of the street that the person lives who threw half a brick at you for being an ****ing queer, there’s a fair chance that you try not to walk down that end of the street. This means you experience fewer hate crimes, but that doesn’t mean that society is safe and it’s OK for you to walk down the street the same way anyone else might.
This is reflected in the Stonewall report, which notes 26% of cis LGB people, and 44% of trans people, “avoid certain streets because they don’t feel safe as an LGBT person”.
Overall the report notes an increase of 78% in the number of LGBTphobic hate crimes taking place in the past four years – broadly in line with what official statistics say of the time since 2013.
The latest statistics from ONS once again show more people identifying as bisexual – and again it’s a generational shift with younger people less likely to identify as straight.
Emily Knipe, of the Population Statistics Division at the Office for National Statistics, says of the new figures: “In 2016, around 2% of the population identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB).
“This has increased from 1.7% in 2015 (a statistically significant increase). London had the largest proportion of the population who identified as LGB (2.7%), which could be associated with a relatively young and diverse population.”
In 2016, estimates from the Annual Population Survey (APS) showed that 93.4% of the UK population identified as heterosexual or straight and 2.0% of the population identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). This comprised of:
1.2% identifying as gay or lesbian
0.8% identifying as bisexual
A further 0.5% of the population identified themselves as “Other”, which means that they did not consider themselves to fit into the heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian categories. A further 4.1% refused, or did not know how to identify themselves.
Previous figures had shown 0.6% were bi, which in turn was up from 0.5% on the previous sample.
Been in bi spaces and noticed there seem to be more women there compared to lesbian and gay groups and events? These figures may have part of the explanation as to why.
Around 1.7% of males in the ONS survey identified themselves as gay or lesbian in 2016 compared with 0.7% of females.
However, 0.9% of females identified themselves as bisexual compared with just 0.6% of males.
Overall, a larger proportion of males (2.3%) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) than females (1.6%), so “LGB” groups might be more male, but the skew tends the other way for bisexual people.
ONS figures like this do not go beyond binary gender identities.
Young and Queer: Young and Bi
4.1% of the population aged 16 to 24 identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). This comprised of 1.7% identifying as gay or lesbian and 2.4% identifying as bisexual.
The 16 to 24 age group was the only age group to have a larger proportion identifying as bisexual compared with lesbian or gay.
Bi North of the Border
Scotland had the largest proportion of the population identifying as LGB, with 2.2%. This was made up of 1.2% identifying as gay or lesbian, and 1.0% as bisexual. Scotland had the largest proportion of the population identifying as bisexual compared with the other UK countries, but for the proportion identifying as gay or lesbian, England had the same proportion as Scotland, at 1.2%.
The proportion of the population indentifying as LGB in Scotland increased from 1.6% in 2015 to 2.2% in 2016.