Straight or LGBTQ+? Census data map reveals Mendip's sexual orientations

By Laura Linham

15th Jan 2023 | Local News

Thousands of people in Mendip say they have an LGBTQ+ sexual identity - as census data reveals the diverse "Rainbow Britain" of today.

Some 2,570 people living in our area said they did not identify as "straight or heterosexual". That represents 2.7% of the population aged 16 and over.

The 2021 census was the first time figures on sexual orientation have been included in census records, with people aged 16 and over asked to provide this information on a voluntary basis.

7,700 people in Mendip did not answer the question, but of those who did respond, 89.3% of people said they were heterosexual.

Of those who didn't identify as straight, the most common LGB+ sexualities were bisexual (46.1% of those who did not identify as straight) and gay or lesbian (43%).

Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall said "For the past two centuries of data gathering through our national census, LGBTQ+ people have been invisible, with the stories of our communities, our diversity, and our lives missing from the national record.

"Today is a historic step forward after decades of Stonewall campaigning to record sexual orientation and gender identity in the census, finally painting an accurate picture of the diverse 'Rainbow Britain' that we now live in, where more and more of us are proud to be who we are.

"This data will help Stonewall and others make the case to target better resources and support to help LGBTQ+ people thrive, whether in health, education or work. But just as important, it means our country knows itself a little better today."

The census also asked people aged 16 and over about gender identity, with 318 (0.3%) Mendip residents saying they did not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. Of them, 63 people were trans men and 68 were trans women. A further 40 said they were non-binary.

5,500 people did not answer the voluntary question.

The LGBT Foundation said the data is a "huge first step in making LGBTQ+ people feel included" but added it will be years before the figures provide an accurate picture.

The charity said: "The historic and ongoing attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities, particularly trans and non-binary people, will stop many from feeling safe to provide this information.

"Meanwhile, many LGBTQ+ people are living within households and environments where they are unable to be open about their gender identity, sexual orientation and trans identity."

In total across England and Wales, 1.5 million people identified with an LGB+ sexual orientation in the 2021 census – 3.2% of those aged 16 and over.

Overall, 44.9 million people (92.5% of the population aged 16 and over) filled in the question on sexual orientation. Nine in 10 (89.4%) identified as straight or heterosexual. Some 748,000 (1.5%) described themselves as gay or lesbian, 624,000 (1.3%) as bisexual, and 165,000 (0.3%) selected "Other sexual orientation".

Of those who selected the latter category, the most common responses included: pansexual (112,000, 0.23%), asexual (28,000, 0.06%), and queer (15,000, 0.03%).

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