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Monday 08 November 2010


How does that figure?

Posted in: Features
By Jacqui Stanford - 26th September 2010

Gay-Britain-graphic-007.jpg
Gay Britain according to the ONS

The new estimate that just 1.5 percent of Britain's population is gay or bisexual is being met with utter disbelief.

The Office of National Statistics came up with the surprising figure after interviewing more than 450,000 people. It's a massive drop from previous estimates of 5-7 percent.

Gay networking websites Gaydar and GaydarGirls have told Pink News that the estimate can't be true, as they have 2.2 million members in the UK, which accounts for 6.7 percent of the population.

The survey figures suggested that there are around 480,000 gay men and lesbians and 245,000 bisexual people in Britain - 725,000 in total.

Gaydar managing director Trevor Martin told Pink News the Office for National Statistics figures don't add up.

"With 2.2 million Gaydar profiles in the UK either there are a lot of straight guys playing away from girlfriends or every single gay and lesbian in the country tunes into GaydarRadio – or the ONS have got it terribly wrong."

Gay lobby group Stonewall says the figures are likely to be an underestimation because many gay people may be unwilling to identify themselves as gay in a survey.

Of the five percent in the survey who did not say they were heterosexual, 3.5 per cent refused to answer the question, described themselves as "other" or said they did not know.

Correspondent Mark Townsend points out in The Observer that the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, most recently conducted 10 years ago, asked 11,000 Britons: 'Ever had sex with a same sex partner, including genital contact?' More than 6 percent of the respondents replied: 'Yes.'

"Are we to believe the pool of potential partners for gay and bisexuals has recently evaporated by millions? If not, then why the vast discrepancy?" he writes.

"The answer might be merely the latest example of a condition that has long blighted Britain's gay community: stigma. [The] figures could represent how uncomfortable a large portion of the gay and bisexual population still feels when talking about their sexuality rather than suggest that previous calculations were awry."

Right-wing newspapers are describing the estimate as "exploding the myth" that as many as one person in 10 is gay.

The Christian Institute is already using the figures to question government efforts to tackle homophobia, with Head of Communications Mike Judge saying a large amount of public money has been spent on the basis of higher figures, "which have turned out to be a lie".

GayNZ.com will soon have a follow-up from NZAF Senior Researcher Peter Saxton, responding to the figures, looking at what other countries have found recently, and whether there are plans to do the same in New Zealand.


Jacqui Stanford - 26th September 2010

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