Just 1.5 per cent of Britons are gay, says pioneering survey

Almost three-quarters of a million adults in the UK say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual according to the first attempt by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to quantify the gay population. The findings show that an estimated 480,000 people consider themselves gay or lesbian, and a further 245,000 said they were bisexual.

These figures estimate that Britain's gay community accounts for 1.5 per cent of the total population – much lower than previous estimates.

The most commonly used previous estimate was 6 per cent which was cited by ministers when civil partnership legislation was introduced in 2005. This suggested a gay population of 3.6 million. However critics said the estimate might not be accurate as respondents could be reluctant to talk about their sexuality on the doorstep.

London had the highest concentration of gay people at 2.2 per cent of the population, Northern Ireland had the lowest at 0.9 per cent. Overall 1.5 per cent of the population considered themselves to be gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The ONS received 450,000 responses in its new Integrated Household Survey (IHS) – the biggest pool of UK social data after the Census.

The figures also showed that people who said they were gay were much more likely to be in managerial or professional occupations than heterosexual workers – 49.1 per cent compared with 30.6 per cent for straight workers. They were also better educated with 38 per cent holding a degree compared to just 21.9 per cent of heterosexuals. Their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population, with 66 per cent under the age of 44 and 17 per cent aged 16 to 24. A third of bisexual households include at least one child but only 8.6 per cent of gay or lesbian respondents live with a child.

The ONS said they were confident that their survey had produced an accurate measure of the gay population based on how people perceived their sexual identity. People aged 16 were asked to respond with one of four options: heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual or other. Higher estimates may have been produced by questioning people about their past sexual experiences rather than their sexual identity, the ONS said.

The data showed that 95 per cent said they were heterosexual, 1 per cent gay or lesbian, 0.5 per cent bisexual, 0.5 per cent other, and the remaining 3 per cent did not know or did not answer.

All IHS statistics are considered experimental, or in a testing phase, as they have not yet been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights charity Stonewall, said the figures were likely to be an underestimate and would increase as the survey was repeated. He said: "We warmly welcome these figures as Stonewall has pushed for this information. However, this is the first time people were asked and data collection happened on doorsteps or over the phone, which may deter people from giving accurate responses... if someone isn't openly gay."

The results of the first Integrated Household Survey also showed that 71 per cent of people in the UK say they are Christian, 4 per cent are Muslim and 21 per cent have no religious affiliation. Slough had the highest concentration of religious devotion in England at 93 per cent. Brighton had the lowest at 58 per cent.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery NurseI am currently...

KS2 Teacher

£21000 - £34000 per annum + Excellent rates of pay, CPD, Support : Randstad Ed...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse required for ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album