James W. Hicks, M.D.

Only 1.5% of Brits Are Gay or Bisexual?

In Research on October 5, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Last month, the UK released the findings of a government survey conducted in 2009 which found that only 1.5% of adults (aged 16 or older) are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. The low rates have attracted media attention, particularly since previous surveys in the UK had suggested rates of 5-7%.

The survey was a general survey on a number of topics, to which one question about sexual orientation had been added. Subjects were asked to identify themselves as heterosexual or straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. 1.0% identifying as gay or lesbian and 0.5% identifying as bisexual.

A closer examination of the government’s report, produced by the Office for National Statistics, provides some explanation for the unexpectedly low findings. The survey was conducted mostly door-to-door and face-to-face, which is known to lower rates of honest reporting on sensitive topics like sexual orientation. In fact, adults living alone (who may have been more likely to be gay or lesbian) were less likely to answer the question about sexuality.

The figure of 1.5% also does not include the 3.8% who refused to answer, stuttered in embarrassment, or identified themselves using a different term. That leaves 94.8% who identified as straight, but the survey did not ask about sexual behavior, sexual attraction, or sexual desire. We know that many people call themselves straight, in spite of having sexual feelings and experiences with both sexes. In fact, among men who have had sex with men in the US, half consider themselves straight (see my earlier posts on US surveys of men and women).

There were a few interesting findings from the survey. Young adults and women were more likely to identify as bisexual than gay, and non-whites were more likely to answer “other” or not answer at all.

  1. Agreed. Figures are probably somewhat higher. Heck, I’m a mostly out bi/homosexual but even I might balk at admitting it if someone came to my door and asked me about it in front of certain people.

  2. there another useless study, its incredible how they put it out as if it was the truth, no credible or logial person would believe such results.

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