LGBTQ+ people in the UK

Sexual Orientation in the UK

While most of the UK population identifies as straight or heterosexual, in 2017 it was found that 93.2% of the population identified as heterosexual, which is less than the 94.4% of people that were found in 2012.

From this, around 2.0% of people identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. See more in the following table:

Sexual Orientation 2015 (%) 2016 (%) 2017 (%)
Heterosexual or straight 93.7 93.4 93.2
Gay or lesbian 1.1 1.2 1.3
Bisexual 0.6 0.8 0.7
Lesbian, gay or bisexual 1.8 2.0 2.0
Other 0.4 0.5 0.6
Do not know or refuse 4.1 4.1 4.1

Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

Sexual Orientation in the UK 2017 copy
Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

How Younger Age Groups Identify

This same study found that among 16-24 year old, 4.2% identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. These were the age group that were most likely to identify as such. They were also the only age group where more women identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual than men (4.7% compared to 3.7% respectively).

Similarly, those aged 16-24 had the highest number of people (0.9% who identify as “other” and “don’t know or refuse” categories (5.3%).

How Older Age Groups Identify

Perhaps unsurprisingly, to some, older generations saw higher numbers of those who identify as heterosexual or straight. Only 0.7% of the UK population in this age group identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

The reason for this may be that younger people could be more likely to explore their sexuality combined with generally experiencing more social acceptability of sexual and gender identities and the ability to express these openly.

UK Breakdown

The following chart shows the percentage of people across the UK who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

UK Country 2017 (%)
England 2.1
Scotland 1.9
Wales 2.0
Northern Ireland 1.2

Source: Office for National Statistics – Annual Population Survey

When we explore this regionally, we see that people in London (2.6%) are more likely to identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual than in other areas. This higher proportion in London can be explained by the younger age structure and the diversity of the population as well as general societal acceptance in these age groups, as mentioned earlier.

Percentage of UK population in 2017 who identify as LGB

What Does This Mean?

From this, we can see that despite recent growths, the LGBTQ+ community in the UK – and undoubtedly throughout the world, remains vastly under-represented.

There is still a large percentage of people who are unwilling to disclose their sexual orientation, and while they are fully within their rights to do so, the question must be asked why this is. Is it simply that they are not yet ready? Or is it down to circumstances in their local area, family pressure, or religion? It could be any of these reasons, or it could be none of them.

This data also shows us the differences in orientation between the different generations and the disparity in where people live in the UK too.

All of this boils down to why All Gay Long exists: To create more visibility and provide a resource to make everyone feel more comfortable in their own sexual orientation and gender identities. This is why we started writing and why we will continue to do so.


Date Source: Office for National Statistics.