UK Census data reveals LGBT+ populations for the first time
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
The Sexual orientation, England and Wales Census 2021 results just published by Office of National Statistics in early January 2023 make interesting reading.
- The census question on sexual orientation was a voluntary question asked of those aged 16 years and over.
- In total, 44.9 million people (92.5% of the population aged 16 years and over) answered the question.
- Around 43.4 million people (89.4%) identified as straight or heterosexual.
- Around 1.5 million people (3.2%) identified with an LGB+ orientation (“Gay or Lesbian”, “Bisexual” or “Other sexual orientation”).
- The remaining 3.6 million people (7.5%) did not answer the question.
Of those who selected "other sexual orientation":
- 112,000 (0.23%) identified as pansexual
- 28,000 (0.06%) described themselves as asexual
- 15,000 (0.03%) said they were queer
- 10,000 (0.02%) wrote in a different sexual orientation
Sexual orientation is an umbrella term covering sexual identity, attraction, and behaviour. For an individual respondent, these may not be the same. For example, someone in an opposite-sex relationship may also experience same-sex attraction, and vice versa. This means the statistics should be interpreted purely as showing how people responded to the question, rather than being about whom they are attracted to or their actual relationships.
The question on sexual orientation was new for Census 2021. We have previously collected data on sexual orientation through the Annual Population Survey (APS) but including the question on the census questionnaire enables a much more detailed understanding of sexual orientation in England and Wales. The data will meet the needs for better quality information on the LGB+ population (“gay or lesbian”, “bisexual” or “other sexual orientation”) for monitoring and supporting anti-discrimination duties under the Equality Act 2010.
The question was voluntary and was only asked of people aged 16 years and over. People were asked “Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?”. The different sexual orientations that people could choose from included:
- straight or heterosexual
- gay or lesbian
- other sexual orientation
If they selected “Other sexual orientation”, they were asked to write in the sexual orientation with which they identified.
In total, 44.9 million people answered the question (92.5% of the population aged 16 years and over).
- 43.4 million people (89.4% of the population aged 16 years and over) identified as straight or heterosexual
- 748,000 (1.5%), described themselves as gay or lesbian
- 624,000 (1.3%) described themselves as bisexual
- 165,000 (0.3%) selected “Other sexual orientation”
The overall number of people in England and Wales who identified with an LGB+ orientation was therefore 1.5 million (3.2% of the population aged 16 years and over).
Of those who selected “Other sexual orientation”, the most common write-in responses included:
- pansexual (112,000, 0.23%)
- asexual (28,000, 0.06%)
- queer (15,000, 0.03%)
Another 10,000 (0.02%) wrote in a different sexual orientation.
The remaining 3.6 million people aged 16 years and over (7.5%) did not answer the question on sexual orientation.
Data and analysis showing sexual orientation by age and by sex will be published on 25 January, enabling a more detailed understanding of different identities.