The lowest percentage of heterosexuals in the UK?

The Integrated Household Survey has revealed that Northern Ireland has the lowest percentage of heterosexuals (92.4%) of the regions covered by their report on sexual identity. Only London, on 92.3%, has less heterosexuals.
Of course, if you are in the local media, you’ll report that the North has the ‘lowest percentage of gay people in the UK‘. Based on the survey, 0.9% of NI respondents identified themselves as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual (also the lowest percentage in the survey), 1.0% didn’t respond, 5.3% either didn’t know or refused to answer and 0.4% identified themselves as ‘other’ (I’m not sure what this includes). The highest percentage identifying themselves as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual were in London (2.2%).
Commenting on the figures in that Belfast Telegraph piece, P.A. Mag Lochlainn, president of the Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association said:

People in Northern Ireland are definitely more religiously concerned here than in the rest of the UK and this seems to be an aspect to people ‘coming out’. It takes more courage to come out in Northern Ireland.

Oddly, though, if you compare the statistics for religious responses in NI in 2001 and the IHS surveys of Britain that statement only really applies west of the Bann where practically all the highest figures for the two surveys were returned. Without a breakdown by parliamentary constituency, it’s hard to tell whether the lower levels of response occured in the same areas. While the politics of coming out would obviously vary by location (and no doubt in inverse proportion to religious conservatism), the other possibility (of wider relevance) is that this is further evidence that, by and large, people in NI just dislike answering surveys.
Of course, we are blessed here, as we can also apply the NI Statistics Office methodology and simply re-assign the 6.3% respondents who didn’t indicate a sexual identity based on their surname, where they lived etc. So that would be 98.7% heterosexual, then…


  • Oracle

    that’s a very Hetrophobic piece John 🙂

  • Cynic

    How many are in the DUP?

    How many are elected members?

  • Some consolation, I suppose, may be taken by Iris Robinson for the less than 1% figure for gays, lesbians and bisexuals in Northern Ireland. At least the place is not riddled with the ‘perverts’ she so strongly condemns.

    Hear she’s now back in NI following a Summer sojourn in her Florida home after completing the first few chapters of her autobiography, due to be published some time next year.

    Feel a slight sorrow for her………..She must have been very lonely with little or no emotional joy in her life. Nature abhors a vacuum……..and the rest is history.

  • Glencoppagagh

    There’s a fair chunk of the NI population that wouldn’t care to be classified as any form of sexual. They’re probably heterosexual by default but very unenthusiastic practitioners.

  • Glencoppagagh,

    You are doing yourself no favours by coming up with such top-of-the-head nonsence.

    Where is the evidence for your assertion that a fair chunk of th NI population (are) probably heterosexual by default but very unenthusiastic practicioners.

    Are you speaking from observation or simply on your own personal experience in making this allegation.

    Give us the data, the evidence, in support of your strange views.

  • Greenflag

    These kind of surveys are only of interest to people in Northern Ireland only if they can be broken down into the relevant sectarian categories i.e COI , RC , Presbyterian, Methodist etc etc so that the world can know how many of the gays/lesbians , greedy bis and other genders are either Catholic or Protestant . No use just categorising somebody as Jewish or Arab either . It’s important to know whether they are Catholic jews or Protestant jews etc .

  • It’s surveyphobic, Oracle.

  • Pippakin

    I saw a headline screeching that the fabled ten percent homosexuals in the UK was wrong and that the actual figure was one percent.

    Does anyone care?

    personally I fight my cats for a share of the bed…

  • Cynic

    I have to say that from empirical research west of the Bann I never detected a reluctance from females in either community

  • Pippakin



  • Pippa,

    Don’t think Cynic is bragging……He is merely giving us the benefit of his objective scientific assessment from his hands-on research experience.

    Am I right, Cynic, or am I right ?

    Suspect similar ‘probing’ east of the Bann might yield similar, may be even higher, enthusiastic responce yield.

    So much for Glencoppagagh’s mistaken belief that “a fair chunk of the NI population” are heterosexual by default and are merely “unenthusiastic practicioners”. He must have had a vey limited exposure to life and lived/is living a very sheltered existence.

    Maybe, it’s time to get out a little bit more !!!!

  • smcgiff

    Dodgy survey for sure – everyone know ye’re all queer folk up North!

  • Pippakin

    Warren Poynt

    Well, all I can say with a fair amount of certainty is I do not believe there is such a thing as an unenthusiastic practitioner.

    It is possible he/she has indeed led a sheltered life.

  • Glencoppagagh

    The group I’m alluding to are the evangelical Christians. To almost of these people, sex outside marriage is a very evil activity. So it would not be surprising if they did not feel entirely comfortable with sex after marriage, particularly recreational sex, and whilst the very idea of homosexuality would be abhorrent to them, I doubt if they would readily describe themselves as heterosexuals either. Their preferred option would be not to discuss it at all.
    As for quantification, how many people in NI claim to be born more than twice? Not all of them will be so squeamish but a signficant proportion would tend to be.
    There may still be a few devout RCs with similar views but not many I’d guess.

  • Glencoppagagh,

    In your previous responce, you confirmed that your un-verified assumptions are based not on evidence, data or personal research.

    In your original post you alleged that “a fair chunk of the NI population” are “probably heterosexual by default” but are “very unenthusiastic practicioners.”

    When challenged to produce evidence to support your opinions you simply declared that the “fair chunk” to which you were referring were evangelical Christians for whom pre or post martial sex is a “very evil activity.”

    From this assumption you leap to the conclusion (without any evidence) that “it would not be surprising if they did not feel entirely comfortable” with sex within marriage. And from this dubious assertion you seem to doubt that these married evangelical Christians would describe themselves as

    Their (evangelical Christians) ‘ preferred option’ would be not to discuss it (presumably, sex) at all.

    Northern Ireland must be very luckly indeed to have such an unrecognised expert as yourself into the sexual habits of evangelical Christians and others.

    We all look forward to seeing the basis for your conclusions being published in a sociological journal of repute…………or are they, as I suspect, the unproven subjective ramblings of a repressed and joyless human being. You are so transparent.

    Get a life, loosen your inhibitions and chill out a bit more. Promise you life will be more fulfilling.

  • Rory Carr

    This poll may be further distorted by those who marked themselves down as ‘Bi-sexual’, believing it to mean that they’d ‘done it’ twice.

  • Turgon

    Warren Poynt,
    Thank you for defending evangelical Christians. I also though Catholics disapproved of sex outside marriage and also of contraception which makes Glencoppagagh’s extremely shaky hypothesis even more shaky. S/he may have some trouble with the peer review process of this piece of work.

    On a much more boring note a quick look through the survey showed that they interviewed 450,000 adults. I am not a statistician but I saw no comment on margin of error estimates etc. The difference between NI (0.9% LGB) and London (2.2% LGB) might be within the margin of statical error and as such almost completely irrelevant.

  • We get some free shopping vouchers each year in return for sitting down with a very nice lady who asks us a lot of questions about this and that but never the other. She’s been coming to us for years and she records lots of info on behalf of NISRA I think it is.

    I can’t remember being asked about my sexuality or sexual identity or what i do on a Saturday night.

  • Rory Carr

    I doubt that the margin of statistical error is likely to be responsible for the NI?London figures, Turgon. There are two good reasons why London is likely to have a much higher proportion of population willing to claim a sexual identity other than hetrosexual. The first is that the metropolis has always attracted those on the fringes of society who may feel oppressed in the smaller, more conservative milieu of rural and provincial life so that many of NI’s gay and lesbian men and women will have already fled NI for the more welcoming and anonymous atmosphere of London where they can choose to be as ‘in’ or ‘out’ as they wish – many being ‘in’ at work and flamboyantly ‘out’ on the scene, but increasingly more and more at ease being completely open in all areas of life (except perhaps on trips back home).

    The second simply confirms the ease with their sexuality that Londoners feel more free to express openly.

    In short, gay Londoners are more gay, more out and more in-your-face proud of it. They are also simply more than anywhere else (though Brighton might have the edge as percentage of population – it is known as ‘The Gay Capital’ after all).

  • Rory,
    That is very likely to be true. However, the margin for statistical error is not quoted in the survey as far as I can see. It is likely to be +/- 2.5% that is usually how they are quoted. Hence, actually the differences in the survey are as likely statistically speaking to be due to random sampling error as to real differences.

    I do not demur from your analysis and agree that it is the most likely correct one. However, the survey cannot actually comment on that with statical validity unless the difference between 0.9% and 2.2% is outwith the error range for the survey.

    Then again there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

  • Rory Carr

    It seems then, Turgon, mirabile dictu, that we are in complete agreement, but I can’t shake off a feeling of near certainty that, in this case, the divergent ratio of those claiming to homosexuality in London and Northern Ireland in this poll, whatever of the accuracy of the poll itself, coincides with the crude empirical evidence of everyday observation.

  • Details of the sampling errors are available in this paper. The standard errors are actually well below 1% and vary according to particular questions (see pages 6 onwards for actual standard errors).

  • Framer

    We export most of our homosexuals to London which accounts for our low percentage.

    Indeed London is well serviced by the provinces as a survey recently discovered that 90% of gay men in the capital were born outside it.

  • bigchiefally

    Awww 🙁

  • bigchiefally

    Framer – I think this is most likely it. I know 4 homosexuals from my year at school, 1 still lives here but hasnt come out, the other 3 moved to Britain and America (if not London).

    Despite this I am not sure Belfast is a terrible place to be a homosexual. In the last couple of months I must have seen about 4 sets of gay or lesbian couples holding hands wandering round Belfast city centre, Forest side shopping centre or just along the Lagan. It is unusual enough to be noteworthy but I likewise dont remember ever seeing this during my time living in England or Scotland.

  • Neil


    have to agree regarding the exporting of gay folk to London, my brother and his partner are over there now, along with many of the other gay lads he hung around with when I was a kid in Ballymena.

    I do think that homophobia is rampant here. Both the passive, laddish humour style and the more sinister type. I do think our politicians legitimise homophobic behaviour, thinking of Iris and Ian Og primarily, and most of us have heard how allegations of homosexuality can harm a career in the DUP. Actually out of interest, do we have any out politicians at all?
    [Unless people have a reasonably good link to support responses to this – any speculation will have to be carefully moderated, sorry. J]

    But back to my point, in my workplace (which is in the IT sector) where everyone is degree qualified, homophobia and racism are the norm. Hardly a tea break goes by without someone being called a homo, as a euphemism for being a coward. And given the propensity for the track suit bedecked teenagers who congregate out of doors of a week end to drink Harp and Strongbow to attack people with long hair, for example, would suggest to me that being openly gay in front of these people would result in a hospital stay. They don’t like difference. Confuses them I reckon.

    It would be nice to see the politicians who legitimise this type of behaviour held to account at the polls, but that will never happen.

  • lover not a fighter

    I think I may be a low percentage hetro-sexual but still hetro.

    I am willing to try some of the other alternatives given half a chance !

  • Framer

    The ONS report is worth a read for statistical methods, if a little dense at times, and the deeper findings not much reported otherwise.

    The interviewing techniques illustrated were designed to optimise answering and suggest reliability.

    1% in UK are gay or lesbian of whom two thirds are men. (It’s 2% in Canada.)

    0.5% are bisexual of whom two thirds are women.

    Northern Ireland has a 0.9% gay, lesbian and bisexual rate and the highest don’t know/refusal to answer rate of 5.3% (NE 1.%; London 4.2%).

    0.4% here are ‘Other’ (West Midlands 0.7%!)

    11.8% (85,786) say they are in a civil partnership. There have been around 42,000 since commencement which equals some 84,000 individuals making this statistic very convincing.

    Age breakdowns for gay men/lesbians go from 18% to 47% to 27%, to 6% being in the over 65s.

    Some interesting lower level statistics e.g. on gay smoking habits.

  • Big Maggie

    0.5% are bisexual of whom two thirds are women.

    Quite frankly, I don’t trust that stat one little bit. The bonobo chimpanzee shares 98.4% of its DNA with us yet is 100% bisexual.

    Somebody’s not being honest.

  • slug

    Its an absolutely huge sample.

    Assuming they stratified the sample so that about 3%-4% were from NI and 10% from London then that yields

    45,000 in London – gives very precise estimates
    13,500-18,000 in NI – pretty precise.

    Without looking up my Normal Distribution tables the difference between 0.9 and 2.2 is probably just about statistically significant with this size of sample—at the 5% level of significance

  • slug

    Having now done the math i have tested the null hypothesis that the population proportions are the same in London and NI.

    You get a Z statistic of 10.4.

    Assuming a two-tailed test (i.e. allowing alternative to differ on both sides (NI having either a higher or a lower proportion of gays) you get a P value of 0.0002 which is well below the significance level of 0.05, therefore the hypothesis that Turgon puts forward can be rejected.

  • slug

    I generally disagree with Turgon, but its rare to be able to reject one of his conjectures scientifically.

  • Based on the p values and confidence levels given by the IHS the percentage of those who identified themselves as G/L/B in London is between 1.9% and 2.5%, while that in NI is between 0.4% and 1.3%.