Teh gays, teh gays!

Something that\’s always interested me: just how many people do enjoy the fruitier flavours of human sexuality?

No, not because I\’m looking for a date, rather as a political question. For as we know, every political grouping (using \”politics\” in its wider sense) will deliberately over estimate the number who are, could, would or will be in their particular group in order to move their issue up the agenda.

For example, if the dreadful failures of the NHS to deal properly with transgender issues (if I\’ve successfully remembered the politically correct designation du jour) affects 50 people a year rather than 500,000 a year then it\’s going to be less of a political hot button, isn\’t it?

After all, the one thing we truly know about this universe is that we\’ve got, at any one time, limited resources to use to address all of the problems we face. Perhaps NHS resources should be directed to some childhood disease that kills hundreds a year? Our decision will be different if the transgender problem is that 50 or (for the purposes of argumentation only, ludicrously over estimated) 500,000.

So, how many of teh gays?

FEWER than half a million people in Britain are homosexual – a much smaller number than was thought, according to one of the biggest social surveys.

Just 1.5 per cent of the population describe themselves as either homosexual, lesbian or bisexual, well short of Government estimates of seven per cent.

Note that this has no implications at all for civil rights: those are both individual and inalienable (although we do have to keep reminding our Lords and Masters of that last part), meaning that how one desires to disport one\’s genitals has no effect on one\’s civil rights.

Anyway, by having actually tried to count we\’ve got an estimate, one which appears to be a great deal lower than the ones society (or at least the governance of it) is working on.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of charity Stonewall, said: “This is the first time that people were asked and data collection happened on doorsteps or over the phone, which may deter people from giving accurate responses – particularly if someone isn’t openly gay at home.

“We’d expect to see these figures increase over time as people’s confidence in the survey grows and sexual orientation becomes a routine part of data collection.”

Nice try Ben but I have a feeling that your place on that political agenda just slipped a bit.

9 thoughts on “Teh gays, teh gays!”

  1. In the same report, they note that the percentage of people claiming to be non-believers went up, something the Humanist Society attributes to the greater acceptability of this choice allowing people the courage to state it.

    So, perhaps courage is a zero-sum game, and the athiests are taking more than their fair share from the gays..?

  2. Is David Laws now in this 1.5%, when last year he wouldn’t have been? Are you gay if you practise in secret? Are you gay if you’re closeted and married to a member of the opposite sex?

    I agree with you vis a vis the hyperbolising of interest groups, but self-identifying surveys aren’t necessarily more accurate.

  3. I’m with Jill here.

    I suspect we have no idea how many people are gay and I suspect it’s probably impossible to work out (why would one need to know anyway?) not least because the definition thing is tricky.

  4. Only 95% self-identified as hetero and that should also be taken into account. That means that the ones who can’t or won’t peg their sexuality are roughly twice as many as those who self-identify as gay or bi. Now, there is always a certain level of interaction between members of the gay community and those who are closeted, curious or searching for their sexual identity. The feeling one does get is that they are 2-3 times the numbers of those who are out of the closet. Not very scientific, I know but no worse than taking the 1,5% as the total number of gay and bi people.
    Try running this kind of poll in a society like Sweden and I bet you’ll see quite different numbers.

  5. Ben has a point but it would be unlikely that people not lying would increase the figure by more than 50% at the outside which is 2.25%

    Of course in terms of vote gathering it is unlikely that many who conceal their sexuality are going to find it so important that it will determine the way they vote. Look at those gay Tory MPs of yesteryear who voted for clause whatsit.

  6. Hmm, I wonder how many people simply claim they are gay in order to make their life a little easier with the resulting positive discrimination…

    Tim adds: very few I would have thought. Firstly, what positive discrimination and secondly, as someone who is hoplessly heterosexual, there would have to be some serious benefits to dealing with dicks….as I assume for the distaff side of life there would have to be some serious benefits to dealing with a life without them.

  7. I read somewhere that ‘gaydar’ dating website had 1.5m profiles in the UK. No idea how many are duplicates, but that’s a lot of profiles. If I had to put a figure, I’d say 5%. But then I think the number of people who are to some extent bisexual but simply never or rarely act it through and don’t identify as such is probably pretty high, too

    Tim adds: I think it’s obvious, given what we know about sexuality in forced mono sex versions of society (prisons etc etc) that potential homosexuality or bisexuality is a great deal higher than normally expressed such. But that’s a very different argument I think, no?

  8. This data indicates that the total effect of all legislation concerning homosexuality over the past 50 years has been to restore its practice from paleolithic to pre-Roman levels. I would be very interested to know whether over the course of the past 15 years the equality agenda has consumed more than the 1.5% of parliamentary time that the size of the LGT community would suggest is appropriate. If so, I’d be very interested both in finding out why, and whether it is planned to keep similar laws coming at a similar rate.

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