Twice as many young women gay or bisexual compared with 2017

Young female couple hugging with rainbow scarf
The proportion of people identifying as LGB is higher among young adults than any other age group - Mixmike/E+

The number of young women in the UK identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) has more than doubled in the last five years, government data show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published figures revealing that the proportion of young women identifying as LGB now stands at around one in ten.

In 2022, roughly 10.6 per cent of women aged 16 to 24 identified as such, up from 4.8 per cent in 2017, according to estimates.

In contrast, among men aged 16-24, the proportion is slightly lower, at 7.9 per cent in 2022 - around one in 13 - up from 3.8 per cent in 2017.

The ONS also found that the amount of people identifying as homosexual or bisexual is higher among young adults than in any other age group.

In total, around 9.2 per cent of all 16 to 24-year-olds (630,000 individuals) are estimated to identify as LGB, compared with 5.1 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds, three per cent of those aged 35 to 49 and two per cent of 50 to 64-year-olds.

The figure dips to 0.7 per cent for people aged 65 and over, though this proportion has remained broadly stable in recent years and is similar to 2017.

Attitudes changing

This comes amid an overall decrease in the proportion of adults aged 16 and over identifying as heterosexual - a fall from 95 per cent in 2017 to 93.4 per cent in 2022.

The researchers said the drop “may be attributed to more people exploring their sexual identity in combination with changing societal attitudes towards different groups and the expression of these today”.

Furthermore, a breakdown of the data show that within the LGB population, just over two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds identify as bisexual, while in each of the other age groups, the majority identify as gay or lesbian.

The figures reveal that just under half of LGB 25 to 34-year-olds identify as bisexual, with the proportion falling to about a quarter for 35 to 49-year-olds and one in seven for LGB 50 to 64-year-olds.

This trend does not continue into the oldest age group however, with around three in 10 LGB individuals aged 65 and over identifying as bisexual.

Across the whole UK population aged 16 and over, an estimated 3.3% identify as homosexual or bisexual, the equivalent of 1.8 million people.

This figure has increased from 2017, when it was recorded to be 2.1 per cent, or 1.1 million people.

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