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The number of young gay and bisexual adults has doubled in four years in UK

A young gay man shouts in to a megaphone
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

The UK’s respected Office for National Statistics says that the number of young people (aged 16-24) who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has almost doubled in just four years. It’s risen from 4.1% in 2016 to 8% in 2020.

The figures come from an analysis of the country’s large-scale Annual Population Survey, which surveys around 320,000 households annually.

Breaking down that 8% figure, 2.7% of 16-24 year-olds identified as gay or lesbian, and 5.3% as bisexual.

Looking more broadly at all age groups, the proportion of all adults identifying as LGB stood at 3.1% in 2020. This is an increase from 2.7% in 2019 and nearly double the 1.6% in 2014 when the UK’s official estimates began.

Clearly, more and more people feel able to be their true selves – especially younger generations.

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The number of adults identifying as heterosexual was 93.7% (a fall from 95.3% in 2014).

As a region, London had a higher number of people identifying as LGB than anywhere else in the country.

The survey did not ask about trans and non-binary identities.

The figures echo a trend seen elsewhere. An IPSOS survey of 27 countries released for Pride last summer, polled 19,000 people online. It found that 18% of Generation Z (born after 1997), identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual or asexual (compared to 9% overall).

Four percent of Generation Z in that survey also identified as trans, non-binary or genderfluid, compared to just 1% of those over 40.

Related: Olly Alexander refuses to be anything other than his authentic queer self

In the US, in a Gallup poll conducted in 2020, the proportion of LGBT people in the US was estimated at 5.6%, an increase from 3.5% in 2012. The data drew from 15,000 interviews with Americans aged 18 and older.

The UK figures, produced by a government agency, are significant because they draw from such a large sample size.

Robbie de Santos, Director of Communications and External Affairs at British LGBTQ advocacy charity Stonewall, told Queerty: “It’s wonderful to see that an increasing number of LGBTQ+ people can be their authentic selves. It’s important to remember that the number of LGBTQ+ people has not risen but these statics are a heartening sign that people are freer to be their true selves.

“Over the past decade, we’ve also seen an incredible increase in LGBTQ+ representation on our screens and in our culture – from Drag Race to It’s a Sin. Representation that normalizes being LGBTQ+ matters, and often helps people better understand who they are.”

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