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How many gay people are there in the UK?

A 'one in ten' per cent rule (10%) has long-held in popular culture as a 'reliable guesstimate' of homosexuality rates. With a UK population of just over 66 million, this means there would be around 6.6 million who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

However, depending on who's crunching the data, percentages (%) vary. Referencing the Public Health England report: Producing modelled estimates of the size of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population of England (2019).

  • The figure most regularly quoted in the media comes from the UK Department of Trade and Industry, which estimated the size of the LGB population to be between 5-7% of the total adult population in 2003. This figure was based on a general review of surveys from Europe and the US that looked at sexual preferences, including behaviour and attraction. [1]
  • However, recent UK national surveys that asked specifically about self-reported sexual identity have reported lower figures, among which the ONS Integrated Household Survey of 2014 is probably the most comprehensive; with a reported 1.9% of the population self-identifying as LGB or ‘other’ [2]
  • The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) Wave 3 of 2010-2012 reported 2.7-2.8% of the population self-identifying as LGB or ‘other’, and this is the only national survey that included questions on sexual behaviour and attraction in addition to identity have reported lower figures, among which the ONS Integrated Household Survey of 2014 is probably the most comprehensive; with a reported 1.9% of the population self-identifying as LGB or ‘other’.[3]
  • In 2015, LGB estimates of Greater London GP Patient Survey reported 5.1% and LGB estimates of Greater Manchester GP Patient Survey reported 3.6% though MEN R US would like to note that many LGBT+ people gravitate to larger towns and cities. [4]

Taking an average of these percentages (3.5%) and a UK population of 66 million, you are looking at around 2.31 million LGB people. What is deeply shocking, however, is the absence of data for trans people.

[1] Final regulatory impact assessment: Civil Partnership Act 2004. London: Department of Trade and Industry, 2003.
[2] Statistical bulletin: Integrated Household Survey (Experimental statistics): January to December 2014. Office for National Statistics, 2015.
[3] Mercer CH, Tanton C, Prah P, Erens B, Sonnenberg P, Clifton S, et al. Changes in sexual attitudes and lifestyles in Britain through the life course and over time: findings from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal). The Lancet. 2013;382(9907): 1781-94. 10.1016/s0140-6736(13)62035-8
[4] Referencing the Public Health England report: Producing modelled estimates of the size of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population of England (2019). pg 25, boxes 1 and 2.

Demographics of sexual orientation | Wikipedia

Sexual orientation, UK: 2017 | Office of National Statistics | 21 Jan 2019
EuroClinix survey: how many gay and bisexual people are in the UK? | Pink News | 16 Nov 2018
Size of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population of England | Public Health England | Jan 2017
 Gay Britain: what do the statistics say? The Guardian | 3 Oct 2013 
Gay in Britain: People's experiences and expectations of discrimination Stonewall | 2013
Living Together: British attitudes to lesbian, gay and bisexual people | Stonewall | 2012
Serves you right: Lesbian and gay people's expectations of discrimination | Stonewall | 2008
Love Thy Neighbour: What people of faith really think of homosexuality | Stonewall | 2008

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