UK census reveals LGBTQ+ population number for first time ever

The questionnaire asked participants to optionally offer information about their gender identity and sexual orientation for the first time ever.

A photo of a form from the UK (Welsh) Census.
Image: Via Twitter: @FreedomQuarter

For the first time since its advent, the UK census included an optional question in which participants in England and Wales could offer information on their gender identity and sexual orientation. The results from the survey conducted in March 2021 have revealed fascinating statistics surrounding the nations’ diversity.

The Office for National Statistics disclosed that 3.2% of the population has a sexual identity that is not heterosexual. 748,000 contributors describe themselves as gay or lesbian, with 624,000 people identifying as bisexual.

262,000 respondents said that their gender identity is different than that assigned to them at birth. This means that around 0.5% of the UK population is either transgender or non-binary.

In total, this equates to over 1.5 million people identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The voluntary question about sexual orientation and gender identity was left unanswered by 7.5% of the population.

The findings of the 2021 UK Census were similar to estimations about the population of LGBTQ+ people in Britain. The Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey in 2020 approximated that 3.1% of the UK population was either lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Census data from Scotland will be published separately, expected later this year, according to GAY TIMES. In Northern Ireland, answers to the sexual orientation section of the question will also be shared in 2023, however, the Northern Irish census did not include a question on gender identity.

The results revealed the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community itself in Britain, with nearly just as many people identifying as bisexual and pansexual as gay or lesbian. This fact contradicts efforts to put forward a falsification of bisexual identity i.e., bi-erasure.

According to GLAAD, bi-erasure is “a pervasive problem in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in general or regarding an individual) is questioned or denied outright.” The most extreme form of bi-erasure, or indeed biphobia, is to speculate that the person’s identity is invalid altogether, with this being done within history, news media and popular culture.

Another point of interest within the census material is the census map. The map showed more people within the LGBTQ+ community tend to live in cities and urban areas rather than rural regions. The graphic confirmed Brighton’s status as a queer haven in Britain, with 10.7% of residents identifying as either gay, lesbian or bisexual.

The Irish census, conducted by the Central Statistics Office in 2022, did not include a section for participants to discuss their gender identity/sexual orientation.

After recommendations to include more in-depth questions surrounding sexual and gender identity were not adopted, Irish citizens were left to choose between two options – ‘male’ or ‘female’. Those who did not answer the question were assigned a gender at random. However, it has been reported that more diverse questions on the Irish census are being trialled for 2026.

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