UK | Fewer people than ever identify as heterosexual

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Official government statistics have revealed that fewer people in the UK today are identifying themselves as strictly heterosexual, especially among the youth.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the proportion of the UK population over the age of 16 who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) increased from 1.5% in 2012 to 2.0% in 2017.

This means that there were an estimated 1.1 million people aged 16 years and over identifying as LGB in 2017 out of a UK population aged 16 years and over of 52.8 million. The results from 2017 were released this week by government statisticians.

They found that the proportion of the UK population aged 16 years and over identifying as heterosexual or straight has also decreased from 94.4% in 2012 to 93.2% in 2017.

The remaining 4.8% of people identify as “other”; people who do not consider themselves to fit into the heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian categories.

Males (2.3%) were more likely to identify as LGB than females (1.8%) in 2017, as were younger people, suggesting a generational shift.

“We estimate that 4.2% of people aged 16 to 24 years identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, a higher proportion than for other older age groups,” said Paula Guy, Population Statistics Division, Office for National Statistics.

“Around 7 in 10 of the lesbian, gay or bisexual population are single and have never married or registered a civil partnership. This reflects the younger age structure of this population and that legal unions for same-sex couples are relatively new. ”

Regionally, people in London were most likely to identify as LGB (2.6%), with people in the North East and East of England the least likely (both 1.5%).

The Office for National Statistics noted that this kind of information is useful “because having an estimate of the size of the lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) community will allow charities, local and central government to target services effectively.”

The statistics, sourced from the UK’s Annual Population Survey, only indicates people’s self-identified sexual identity, and does not necessarily reflect sexual attraction and/or sexual behaviour. In other words, some people may have same-sex attraction or engage in same-sex sexual activity but may not identity as LGB.

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