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Number of over-65s identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual increases for first time

Under a LGBT Pride Flag, taken at Exeter Pride Parade, public event.
The number of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has increased (Picture: Getty Images)

The number of people over 65 identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) has increased for the first time, new data has revealed.

Around 1% of people in the age category classed themselves as LGB in 2019, compared with 0.7% in 2018, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

However, the proportion of LGB people in older age groups still remains smaller than other lower age groups, with the youngest group accounting for one third of all LGB people in the UK.

One in 15 people aged between 16 and 24 now identify themselves as LGB, demonstrating an increase of 2.2% since 2018. This could be because they are more likely to explore their sexuality, or be more socially accepting of sexual identities than older generations, the ONS said.

But more people also identified as LGB across the UK population as a whole – with an estimated 2.7% people aged 16 years and over identifying as LGB in 2019, up from 2.2% in 2018.

The number of men identifying as LGB increased from 2.5% to 2.9% between 2018 and 2019, and women identifying as LGB increased from 2% to 2.5%.

When the data was separated by country, England and Scotland saw increases in people identifying as LGB, while Wales and Northern Ireland remained the same.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  A giant rainbow Pride flag is carried along the sea front during Brighton Pride 2018 on August 4, 2018 in Brighton, England.
One in 15 people aged between 16 and 24 now identify as LGB (Picture: Getty Images)

People in London were most likely to identify as LGB in England, possibly due to the younger demographic, with 3.8% placing themselves in the category in 2019, up from 2.8% in 2018. The east of England showed the lowest proportion of LGB people at 2.1%.

Penelope McClure, Statistician at the ONS, described the increase in younger people identifying as LGB as ‘statistically significant’.

She said: ‘An estimated 1.4 million people aged 16 and over in the UK identified as LGB in 2019 – a statistically significant increase from 1.2 million in 2018 – continuing the trend we have seen over recent years.

‘People aged 16 to 24 continue to be the most likely to identify as LGB, however the proportion of older adults identifying as LGB, while much smaller, is also increasing.’

The ONS study found that men were almost twice as likely as women to identify as gay, while women were more likely than men to identify as bisexual – a statistical trend which has continued since 2014.

Double the proportion of LGB people were single and had never been married in 2019, at more than two-thirds, compared with just over one third of heterosexual or straight people.

The ONS sexual orientation estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from people aged 16 and older in the UK.

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