There's a new report published by Stonewall called Rainbow Britain. It highlights the
higher levels in social acceptance of lesbian, gay and bi relationships, and a steady
increase in the percentage of the population who identify as lesbian, gay or bi.
The groundbreaking report using data from Ipsos UK paints a picture of a Britain that is
becoming a Rainbow Nation.
LGBTQ+ people, our lives and experiences are now more visible than they have ever been -
in every community, and in all aspects of life, in Great Britain.
There are stark differences between the generations – with more younger people
identifying as lesbian, gay, bi and trans. In Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012), only 71% of
people identify as straight (compared to 91% of Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964), and 14%
of people identify as bi or pansexual (compared to just 2% of Baby Boomers). In the survey Gen X
was defined as people born 1965 to 1980 and Millennials were born 1981 to 1996.
When we look beyond the label and ask about who people are attracted to, the picture
is even more dramatic. Just 53% of Gen Z are exclusively straight, and 40% have a
pattern of attraction that could be described as queer.
WHO ARE WE?
The finding of the report suggest that in a single lifetime
we may have travelled from a world in which lesbian, gay, bi and queer relationships were
hidden and LGBTQ+ people were criminalised, to one in which we are a thriving and growing
And we are seen, known and loved by the community around us. Some 39% of the public
have a personal friend or family member who is lesbian or gay, 22% have a personal friend
or family member who is bi, and 9% have a personal friend or family member who is trans.
As more lesbian, gay, bi and trans people feel safe to come out, the expectation is that
these numbers will only rise.
The best quality currently available data on sexual orientation is collected as part of the
Annual Population Survey and published by the Office for National Statistics.
Their survey only collects data on lesbian, gay and bi identities. Their data shows a
slow but steady increase in the percentage of the population who identify as lesbian or gay,
and a more rapid increase in the percentage of the population who identify as bi.
In the survey, the following options were offered:
When asking the question in this way, the vast majority of the population (84%) said they were
straight. The most common identity after Straight is Bi (5%), and an additional 1% of the population identify
as Pansexual. In total, 7% of us identify as having a sexual orientation that involves being
attracted to people of more than one gender.
- Heterosexual or Straight (attracted to opposite sex)
- Bisexual (attracted to both sexes)
- Gay (attracted to same sex male)
- Asexual (not involving sexual attraction or activity)
- Pansexual (attracted to people without noticing their gender)
- Lesbian (attracted to same sex female)
- Omnisexual (attracted to people while noticing their gender)
- Other (specify)
- Don’t know
- Prefer not to say
By comparison identifying as being Gay (3%) or Lesbian (1%) is much less common. This in itself is
significant – most studies to date have shown the Lesbian and Gay population to be larger than the
Importantly, this data indicates that 2% of the population identify as Asexual or Ace. Asexual people
experience little or no sexual attraction, and asexual activists are increasingly visible in their work
to raise awareness and combat discrimination that targets their community.
Age makes a very significant difference to the way in which people answer questions about their own
sexual orientation. The data shows that younger generations are less likely to identify as straight. This
suggests that younger people are more likely to feel comfortable coming out as being LGBTQ+.
SEXUAL ATTRACTION AND AGE
When we look beyond, the label, we see a similar trend of younger people being more likely to
report same-sex attraction. Only just over half of Gen Z (53%) are exclusively attracted to people of
the opposite sex, compared to over three quarters (77%) of the Baby Boomers. Taking account of
the 7% who don’t know, or prefer not to say, two in five (40%) of the youngest people in the survey
have attractions that are queer.
The percentage of people who say they are only attracted to people of the same sex is relatively
stable across generations. Among our youngest cohort, just 7% of people say they feel this way,
compared to 8% of the oldest cohort. But the percentage of people whose attractions align with
bi- or pansexual orientations looks very different by age: 28% of Gen Z are attracted to both sexes,
compared to just 11% of Baby Boomers.
The polling with Ipsos paints a clear picture of a Rainbow Britain: a country where,
generation by generation, more of us feel able to use Lesbian, Gay and Bi labels to describe
our sexual orientations, and beyond those labels, more younger people acknowledge same
sex attraction, including 2 in 5 people from Gen Z.
Age is the main factor that correlates with same-sex attraction. LGBTQ+ people are broadly
evenly represented across gender, ethnicity and class group. We exist, in growing numbers,
in every community in Britain. We are plumbers, teachers, engineers, siblings, parents,
rugby coaches, priests.
This is significant for leaders in all parts of society – whether politicians, editors,
educators, employers, sports organisers or faith leaders.
Connecting with younger voters, readers, learners, workers, sport participants or
worshipers will mean responding to generations that are much more likely to have same-sex attraction.
That means creating inclusive cultures in all workplaces, schools, gyms and
sport clubs. It means recognising our relationships and identities in national policy, HR
policies and in the faith communities where we worship. It means taking action against the
prejudice, discrimination and abuse that we experience.
The polling also shows how closely connected LGBTQ+ people are to wider society. It is
not just the youngest adults, Gen Z, who are closely connected to LGBTQ+ people. |
age adults, particularly those in their 40s and 50s, more likely to have children of their
own, are the most likely group to have close friends or family who are LGBTQ+, and those
connections are strong across all parts of society.
Rainbow Britain is all of us who are LGBTQ+ and closely connected to LGBTQ+ people. This
challenges archaic notions of the LGBTQ+ community existing in a liberal, metropolitan
bubble. Our constituency is significantly bigger and broader.
This means that a failure to act on issues facing LGBTQ+ people at work, in school, in sport,
through policy, reflects negatively to that larger community who care about us. It means
that attempts to belittle LGBTQ+ people and our lives will eventually fall flat, because there
are simply too many people right across society that know and love LGBTQ+ people.
Source: Stonewall - Rainbow Britain Report (October 2022)
Download a copy of the Full Report from Stonewall.