Sitting on the train on Saturday, I picked up “The Metro”, one the London free papers, and began a mindless browse, until an article entitled “Just 1.5% of British population are gay or bisexual” caught my eye. Having just come from a 50th birthday party of a gay friend of mine, I decided to look deeper into it. It read:-
The proportion, which amounts to almost 750,000 adults, is far lower than previous estimates.
In 2005, the government’s first assessment suggested that one in 16 – or about 3.6million – Britons were homosexual.
But yesterday the Office for National Statistics included figures on the gay and bisexual community in its new household survey.
Gay charities insisted the true homosexual population was higher.
The survey of 450,000 people found 94.8 per cent of adults – 94.6 per cent of men and 94.9 per cent of women – said they were straight.
It found 1.3 per cent of men were gay and 0.6 per cent of women were lesbian, while 0.3 per cent of men and 0.7 per cent of women were bisexual.
Ben Summerskill of gay charity Stonewall, welcomed the figures but added: ‘Data collection happened on doorsteps or over the phone, which may deter people from giving accurate responses – particularly if someone isn’t openly gay.’
Not only was I surprised at the low numbers quoted, I was also taken aback by the comment from Stonewall that they welcomed the figures. Surely they would know that, for some reason, this figure is unlikely to be accurate. Surely it should be more like 5% than 1.5%.
It is essential for the development of a fair and equitable society that the when statistics are quoted from research undertaken, particularly from reputable and unbiased sources, that they really reflect the true picture.
Having read the report from the Office of National Statistics, which is available at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/measuring-sexual-identity-report.pdf I have no reason to question their findings, except that my instinct tells me it is an underestimate that needs further examination.
Often there are statistical misrepresentations ( not this time), it gives the tabloid and reactionary media an opportunity to get excited. Perhaps on this occasion the data collection process, which evidently did not go to every home in the country, provided a skewed sample group or maybe some of those questioned did not come out to their researcher.
So, if you ever get questioned in a future survey, make sure you stand up to be counted! Let’s make sure the facts are right!