Young people aged 16-24 in England and Wales twice as likely to identify as LGB+, census reveals

Around one in 14 young people in England and Wales identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or another minority sexual orientation  ((Alamy/PA))
Around one in 14 young people in England and Wales identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or another minority sexual orientation ((Alamy/PA))

Young people aged 16 to 24 are more than twice as likely to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or another minority sexual orientation (LGB+), census data has shown.

Examination of the 2021 national survey found that one in 14 (6.9 per cent) did not identify as heterosexual - which is twice the average for England and Wales (3.2 per cent).

In Brighton and Hove, which was found to have the highest number of non-straight residents, around one in six people aged 16 to 24 identified as being LGB+.

The census, conducted on March 21, 2021, was the first time that participants aged 16 and over had been asked about their sexual orientation.

The Office for National Statistics, which is releasing its findings in stages, said in a statement: “Local authorities with a relatively high proportion of people aged 16 to 24 who identified as LGB+ tended to have one or more universities.”

Around 9 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 were LGB+, the largest group, while the highest proportion of LGB+ men were 25 to 34.

The total proportion of people who identify as LGB+ shrinks with each age group down to 75 and above, which is 0.4 per cent. Charity Stonewall says this is because of entrenched homophobic attitudes.

A spokesman added: “People over 70 came of age when homosexuality was criminalised and there was a fear of jail. You can expect this group to be afraid.”

This is followed by Brighton & Hove (15.6 per cent), Norwich (14.8 per cent), Cambridge (14.6 per cent), Lincoln (14.4 per cent) and York (14.3 per cent).

The lowest percentages are for Redbridge in London and Slough in Berkshire (both 2.9 per cent), followed by the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham (3.1 per cent), Harrow (3.3 per cent) and Enfield (3.3 per cent).

London boroughs have some of the highest LGB+ proportions for older age groups, however. Around one in 10 (9.8 per cent) of 35 to 44-year-olds in Lambeth identify at LGB+, with 9.0 per cent in Southwark, 8.2 per cent in Hackney and 8.0 per cent in Islington.

Only Brighton & Hove (11.1 per cent) has a higher percentage for this age group.

Lambeth is also the only local authority where people aged 35 to 44 are most likely to identify as LGB+.

London accounts for eight of the 10 highest local LGB+ percentages for 45 to 54-year-olds and 55 to 64-year-olds, and nine of the 10 among those aged 65 to 74.

The only age group where a London borough is top of the list is for people aged 75 and over, with Westminster & City of London having the highest LGB+ percentage (2.4 per cent), followed by Brighton & Hove (2.3 per cent), Hammersmith & Fulham (2.2 per cent), Kensington & Chelsea (2.2 per cent) and Camden (2.1 per cent).