A gay marketing group is angrily disputing the UK government’s claim that there are less than a million lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in the UK.
This surprisingly low figure was included in a report published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week.
Based on its Integrated Household Survey, ONS concluded that “In 2012, 1.5 per cent of adults in the UK identified themselves as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual”. That’s around 765,000 people.
International LGBT marketing consulting company Out Now, however, has slammed the report as “misleading”.
CEO Ian Johnson has written to ONS requesting that the statistics be withdrawn.
“This claim is not only inaccurate as a true measure of the prevalence of homosexuality and bisexuality in the United Kingdom, it is dangerous as it is prone to misreporting and may lead to funding problems for organisations focused on the health of LGB people,” warned Johnson.
He went on to question the research methodology used by ONS to come to its results, claiming that the methods used would lead people to avoid being open about their sexuality and thereby not answering the survey accurately.
The group recommended that American-style research methodologies be used, which had in 1993 found that just under six per cent of the US population identify as gay, lesbian or homosexual.
Johnson also pointed out that almost four percent of those surveyed in the UK by ONS answered “Don’t know / refusal” on the sexual orientation question.
“Does it not strike anyone at ONS as perhaps a bit ‘odd’ that this many people might not know their own sexual orientation?” he asked.
“Now we either need to conclude that people in the USA are around five times more likely to be gay, lesbian or bisexual or else we are left with the conclusion that Out Now has reached which is that your research is misleading, inaccurate and dangerous.”
Johnson went on to state: “The data you are responsible for publishing is not fit for purpose and risks being used by those who may not ‘like’ gay, lesbian or bisexual people to undermine their rights. It may be used similarly to seek to reduce funding for government and NGO initiatives focused on LGB people in the UK.”
The statistics have already been used by the UK media to suggest that Prime Minister David Cameron’s “drive for equality” is misplaced due to the low number of LGBT people.
Gay Star News noted that in 2010, gay dating site Gaydar reported that it had over two million members in the UK. That alone is more than double the number of people reported by the ONS survey.