Number crunching

The ONS has published its figures for sexual orientation of the UK population in 2017 – and the trend away from heterosexuality has continued. The estimates are based on the Annual Population Survey (APS).

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%. There is a small drift from bi to gay identity overall this year – but at 0.1% that may just be ‘noise’.

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 & bisexual 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

Mostly Men
Around 1.7% of males identified themselves as gay or lesbian and 0.9% of females. Conversely, 0.9% of females identified as bisexual compared with 0.6% of males – the same as in 2016.
16- to 24-year-olds were the age group most likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual at 4.2%. This comprises 1.9% identifying as gay or lesbian and 2.3% identifying as bisexual. This 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 also 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 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.

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 stated they had never married or entered into a civil partnership – for those identifying as heterosexual this drops to 34%.

Mixed race
The figures for race really stand out. The ONS report
White: 2.1% identify as LGB Mixed / multiple ethnic groups: 5.9% Asian or Asian British: 1.2% Black African Carribean or Black Other ethnic group: 1.1% British: 1.1%