Lobby queries poll finding that 1.5% of Britons claim to be gay or bisexual


FEWER THAN two in 100 people in the United Kingdom declare themselves as gay or bisexual, according to the largest ever official survey – though gay groups last night raised questions about the Office for National Statistics’ findings. They argue that large numbers of people are reluctant to reveal details about their sexuality to pollsters.

The latest figures, based on interviews with more than 450,000 people in 2008, show that 1.5 per cent of the population claim to be gay or bisexual. This is far lower than the 7 per cent estimated by the treasury when it was evaluating the financial implications of introducing civil partnership legislation in 2004, and lower than figures found in the United States or Canada where similar research has been carried out in recent years. However, the Office for National Statistics is confident about the accuracy of its findings – which would suggest there are approximately 750,000 gay or bisexual people in the UK – because the sample is far larger than any carried out before.

Gays are much more likely to be in managerial or professional jobs – 49 per cent compared with 30 per cent for straight workers – and better educated, with 38 per cent holding a degree. Their age profile is also much younger than the rest of the population, with 66 per cent under the age of 44 and 17 per cent aged between 16 and 24. Slightly less than half are cohabiting, but only 8 per cent live in a household with at least one child present.

London has the highest concentration of gay people, at 2.2 per cent of the city’s population.

Stonewall, the gay lobby group, said the figures should be treated cautiously.

“It’s the first time people have been asked, and we expect the figures to rise in a few years,” said spokeswoman, Ruth Hunt. “We know other equality strands such as faith have this problem [of surveys not being representative]. Even the figures for faith do not reflect the lived experience of those on the ground.”