United Kingdom

The British government have estimated that 6% of the UK population is homosexual – that’s every 17th person.

Stickman figure showing 1 in 17 prevelance of homosexuality

Another way of estimating the prevalence of homosexuality is looking at marriages and civil partnerships. Although the government has passed legislation for same-sex marriages, these will not take place until 2014. This means all marriages up until 2014 have been heterosexual (opposite-sex). Meanwhile, civil partnerships that were introduced in 2004 are exclusively homosexual (same-sex). If we assume gay and straight people are getting married and having civil partnerships at the same rate, we can estimate the percentage of homosexuals in the population.

Number of Opposite-Sex Marriages and Same-Sex Civil Partnerships in the UK

Number of Opposite-Sex Marriages and Same-Sex Civil Partnerships in the UK.
*(no data is yet available for marriages in 2012)

After civil partnerships were introduced, there were over 18,000 registered in 2006. This initial peak is probably because there were many same-sex couples who had wished their relationship to be recognised, but were unable to do so previously. Therefore, there was an initial rush of same-sex couples to register their partnership. Numbers then levelled off after 2007 to around 6700 gay couples per year compared to an average of 239,000 straight couples getting married each year.

If we add the number of marriages and civil partnerships together, we get the total number of unions over a given time period. Then all we have to do is work out how many of these total unions were civil partnerships, and we have an estimate of the gay population. So let’s take the 3 year period between 2009-2011.

2009

2010

2011

3 Year Total
Civil Partnerships

6,281

6,385

6,795

19,461

Marriages

232,443

243,808

247,890

724,141

Total Unions

743,602

By dividing the number of civil partnerships by the total amount of unions, we get 2.6%.
Therefore we can make an assumption that approximately 2.6% of the UK population have homosexual relationships. This is also likely to be underestimated for several reasons:

1. Civil partnerships have only been around for ~10 years. Before this, gay couples probably never imagined being able to get married. It may therefore be slow to be taken up by them.

2. Some gay couples may have not gotten civil partnerships simply because they are waiting for same-sex marriage to be legalised. Therefore it’ll be interesting to re-assess this sometime after same-sex marriage is introduced in 2014.

3. Due to discrimination, some gay people may still be in denial of their homosexuality (aka they’re ‘in the closet’). If such people were out, they may have met someone and be in a civil partnership. Our data therefore excludes gay people who are closeted – infact, they may be in straight marriages!

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