Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people: number in Scotland
LGB people are not easily identified in routinely available information sources. Aspinall (2009) (1920Kb) states that "estimates range from 0.3 per cent to 10 per cent using different measures and sources."
Recent national surveys carried out between 2005 and 2010 (the key source is Measuring Sexual Identity (1040Kb) from the Integrated Household Survey (2009-2010) have found that between 1.1% and 2.4% of the population self identified as LGB in the UK. It is likely that these figures under report the size of the LGB population in Scotland, although to what extent is unknown. This view is further strengthened by some survey evidence (for example the General Lifestyle Survey, (now a component of the IHS) the British Crime Survey, the DTTI Fair Treatment at Work Pilot survey(2006), and the Scottish Census Small Test (342Kb)(2005-6). Further details are given in Measuring Sexual Identity p15 (1040Kb)). This evidence reports a higher proportion of the population aged 16-44 years stating that they have ever had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex.
Some information is available about the number of people who reported living with a partner of the same sex in the 2001 census; table 1 shows detail of the living arrangements for people living in a couple in Scotland. In the relationships section of the census form householders recorded whether they were living with a husband, wife, partner or other family members. This provides information on how many people are co-habiting as part of a same-sex relationship. This will not include all LGB people but may be a useful reference source.
Further information about the circumstances of people not living in a couple is also available from the census online in table UV49.
Table 1: Numbers of people living as a couple by NHS Board and couple type. Source: General Register Office for Scotland, 2001 Census.
Table 2 summarises information gathered in the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. This survey was carried out in Britain in 1990 and 2000 and primarily collects information about sexual behaviour of the population. Respondents are not asked about their self-defined sexual orientation. However the survey contains useful information about homosexual experiences in the population. The information in this table relates to the survey in 2000 when 11,161 individuals aged between 16 and 44 years of age were interviewed.
Table 2: Percentage of respondents reporting homosexual partners, homosexual experience and attraction to the opposite sex. Source: National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle, 2000
|Men (%)||Women (%)|
|Ever had homosexual partners *||5.4||4.9|
|Attracted only to the opposite sex*||91.9||88.3|
|Ever had any sexual experience with a same sex partner (not necessarily including genital contact) **||8.4||9.7|
(Source: key references and Erens et al 2003***)
*of all respondents aged 16-44 years; ** base used is for all respondents who have 'ever had sexual experience'
There was an increase in reporting of sensitive sexual behaviours in Natsal 2000, the authors noting that the reporting of homosexual experience was almost twice as high in Natsal 2000 compared to Natsal 1990. This is likely to have occurred because of greater willingness among respondents to report sexual behaviour.
*** Details available in key references section
Integrated Household Survey
In September 2010 the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) published a report on measuring sexual identity using data from the Integrated Household Survey. This provided detailed information on a large and broadly representative sample with a high response rate. This survey is an important addition to information available about lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in the UK. However, the definition of LGB people differed from that used in previous surveys.
In 2009-10 among respondents 94% of adults identified themselves as heterosexual/straight, 1.4% as gay or lesbian and 0.5% as bisexual, while a further 0.5% identified themselves as 'Other'. The overall proportion reporting an LGB sexual identity in Scotland was slightly lower than the UK national figure (1.1% versus 1.4% ). While these estimates are lower than previous ones, they are based on "sexual identity", in contrast with other estimates based on self reported sexual behaviour (see the discussion of definitions in the introduction to this section). The report of the survey also included a useful comparison of estimates from different sources.
The survey provided a range of other social and demographic information about LGB people in the UK. For example LGB people were better educated than heterosexual people, more likely to occupy managerial and professional occupations, more likely to come from a white ethnic group and less likely to identify with a religious group.
In relation to health issues, 78.8% of heterosexual respondents felt they were in good health, compared with 78.1% of LGB respondents. However, 80.4% of gay and lesbian respondents said that they were in good health compared with 73.6% of bisexual respondents. LGB respondents were more likely to be current smokers than heterosexual respondents (33.3% versus 22.7% ).
A total of 247,623 adults over 16 years of age were eligible to be asked the sexual identity question of which 238,206 (96%) provided valid responses.
Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.