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…