Number of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in UK increases over five-year period

The proportion of the UK population identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) has increased from 1.5% to 2% over a five-year period, new figures show.

There were an estimated 1.1 million people aged 16 and over who identified as LGB in 2017, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures suggest.

LGB graphic
(PA Graphics)

Of those aged between 16 and 24 years old, 4.2% identify as LGB, more than for any other age category.

Paula Guy, of the ONS’s population statistics division, said: “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.”

Young people could be more likely to identify as LGB because the sexual identities have become more socially acceptable over time and they are also more likely to explore their sexuality, the ONS suggested.

Of those who identified themselves as LGB, 69.4% had a marital status of single, meaning they have never married or entered into a civil partnership.

Ms Guy added: “This reflects the younger age structure of this population and that legal unions for same-sex couples are relatively new.”

Men (2.3%) were more likely to identify as LGB than women (1.8%).

Sexual orientation in the UK: LGB, by region
(PA Graphics)

London is the region where people are most likely to identify as LGB (2.6%), with the North East and the East of England the least likely (both 1.5%).

Across England 2.1% of people identified as LGB, compared to 2% in Wales, 1.9% in Scotland and 1.2% in Northern Ireland.

The proportion of those identifying as heterosexual or straight has decreased from 94.4% in 2012 to 93.2% in 2017.

Sexual orientation in the UK: LGB, by age.
(PA Graphics)

The percentage of people who identified as “other”, meaning they do not consider themselves to be heterosexual or straight, bisexual, gay or lesbian, was 0.6%.

A further 4.1% of people responding to the survey refused to reveal or did not know their sexual identity.

The ONS figures are estimates based on data from the Annual Population Survey.