Posted on: 9 January 2023

Questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2021 census were voluntary to those over the age of 16. This was the first census to ask questions regarding these topics, with the aim of enabling a much better understanding, and to create better quality information for monitoring and supporting anti-discrimination duties under the Equality Act 2010.

Sexual Orientation

In the census people were asked “Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?”. The different sexual orientations that people could choose from included:

  • Straight or heterosexual
  • Gay or lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Other sexual orientation

92.5% of the population (aged over 16) answered the question. 43.4 million people identified as straight or heterosexual. Overall, 1.5 million people in England and Wales identified with as LGB+ orientation, with 748,000 describing themselves as gay or lesbian, 624,000 describing themselves as bisexual, and 165,000 selecting “Other sexual orientation”.

For “Other sexual orientation”, pansexual (112,000), asexual (28,000), and queer (15,000) were the most common write-in responses.

London was the English region with the highest proportion of people who identified with a LGB+ orientation (4.3%). Brighton and Hove was the local authority with the largest LGB+ population (10.7%). In Wales, the local authorities with the largest LGB+ populations were Cardiff (5.3%), Ceredigion (4.9%), and Swansea (3.4%).

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Gender Identity

For the question on gender identity, respondents were asked “Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?”. There was the option of selecting “Yes”, or selecting “No” and writing in their gender identity.

45.7 million people (94%) responded to the question. A total of 262,000 (0.5%) answered “No”, indicating that their gender identity was different from their sex registered at birth. Within this:

  • 118,000 (0.24%) answered “No” but did not provide a write-in response
  • 48,000 (0.10%) identified as a trans man
  • 48,000 (0.10%) identified as a trans woman
  • 30,000 (0.06%) identified as non-binary
  • 18,000 (0.04%) wrote in a different gender identity

Within England, the region with the highest percentage who reported that their gender identity was different from their sex at birth was London (0.91%), and the region with the lowest percentage was the South West (0.42%).

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