UK LGB Numbers Rise Again

The UK’s Office for National Statistics has published its figures for sexual orientation of the UK population in 2017 – and the trend away from heterosexuality has continued. There are interesting stats on people from mixed / multiple ethnic backgrounds and sexuality in this year’s figures. The estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from the household population aged 16 years and over in the UK.

The ONS say that:

  • The proportion of the UK population aged 16 years and over identifying as heterosexual or straight has decreased from 94.4% in 2012 to 93.2% in 2017.
  • Over the last five years, the proportion of the UK population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) has increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017, although the latest figure is unchanged from 2016. There is a small drift from bi to gay identity overall this year – but at 0.1% it’s quite possible this is not statistically significant enough to prove any change.
Sexual orientation 2015 2016 2017
Heterosexual or straight 93.7 93.4 93.2
Gay or lesbian 1.1 1.2 1.3
Bisexual 0.6 0.8 0.7
Lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) total 1.8 2.0 2.0
Other 0.4 0.5 0.6
Do not know or refuse 4.1 4.1 4.1

Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

Mostly Men

Around 1.7% of males identified themselves as gay or lesbian in 2017 compared with 0.9% of females. Conversely, 0.9% of females identified themselves as bisexual compared with 0.6% of males – no change for either sex on the percentage identifying as bisexual in 2016.

16- to 24-year-olds were the age group most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) (4.2%). This figure comprises 1.9% identifying as gay or lesbian and 2.3% identifying as bisexual. The youngest age group was the only age group to have a larger proportion identifying as bisexual than gay or lesbian.

Young Bi Women

The 16- to 24-year-olds were the only age group for which more women (4.7%) identified as LGB than men (3.7%); this was driven by a larger proportion of women identifying as bisexual in this age group than in older age groups.

The 16 to 24 age group also had the highest percentage of people identifying as “other” (0.9%) or “don’t know or refuse” (5.3%) categories – we suspect that covers a lot of labels like queer and pansexual, where people do not see their pansexuality as coming under the ‘bisexual umbrella’.

Unmarried – even after 15 years

Even 15 years after civil partnerships and four years on from same-sex marriage legislation, some 69% of those identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership – for those identifying as heterosexual or straight this figure drops to 34%.

Mixed race

The figures for race though really stand out.  The ONS breaks their survey down thus:

  • White: 2.1% identify as LGB
  • Mixed or multiple ethnic groups: 5.9%
  • Asian or Asian British: 1.2%
  • Black African Carribean or Black British: 1.1%
  • Other ethnic group: 1.1%