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How many gay people are there?

Fifth of gay people are parents

Gay people 'almost invisible' on BBC flagship channels

How much tax do gay people pay?

Do gay people get their money's worth?

How many gay people are there?

It is difficult to be precise because there is still enough prejudice and stigma about to ensure many lesbians and gay men remain 'in the closet', especially outside the major cities.

Civil Partnerships were introduced in December 2005 to enable same-sex couples to register their commitments to each other and provide next-of-kin, pension, and some legal rights and benefits. However the vast majority of lgbt people have already found other ways to develop their relationships and, in the absense of official recognition, created their own lifestyles and built their own families.

2001 Census

The City of London is second only to Brighton in the percentage of same-sex couples declared by people on their Census returns (1.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively). Eleven other London boroughs are included in the top 20 places for same-sex couples.

BBC Relationships survey, February 2006

Gay people 'almost invisible' on BBC flagship channels  

Gay people are almost invisible on the BBC's flagship channels, according to new research commissioned by Stonewall, in spite of contributing £190 million a year to the BBC in TV licence fees.

A major monitoring exercise carried out for Stonewall of 168 hours of prime-time BBC One and BBC Two found lesbian and gay lives realistically portrayed for just six minutes, or 0.06 per cent of airtime. A further 32 minutes of programming featured derogatory or offensive references to gay people. These came from a range of programmes including the Weakest Link, hosted by Anne Robinson, and The Lenny Henry Show.  

'The stark conclusion of this major exercise is that gay licence-payers receive astonishingly poor value from the BBC,' says Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill. 'At a time when the BBC is seeking renewal of its Charter, it's difficult to argue that 1.5 million households should be expected to continue making such a substantial contribution to channels on which their real lives are hardly reflected, and which are often punctuated with derisive and demeaning depictions of them.' 

Tuned Out, carried out by Stonewall and researchers from the University of Leeds, found  
* Even when they feature on BBC One and BBC Two, gay lives are five times more likely to be portrayed negatively than positively
* Lesbians hardly feature in BBC programming at all
* More than 50 per cent of all references to gay people on the BBC were as jokes
* Gay people living in stable relationships with partners and families are invisible on the BBC ­ most of the images used are clichés and stereotypes
* Lesbian and gay issues are rarely tackled or even mentioned in factual programmes
* Gay sexuality is frequently used as an insult, with almost no evidence of the BBC challenging homophobia when it arises       

Focus groups of both gay and heterosexual people told researchers they wanted to see increased and better representation of gay people on screen, and better value for money for lesbian and gay licence-fee payers.  

The BBC was singled out by focus group participants as the least successful broadcaster at capturing the realities of gay lives. 'If you put the BBC against Channel 4, it's just like the caveman,² said one interviewee from London.  

Gay innuendo was broadcast across a wide range of programmes in spite of BBC editorial guidelines which explicitly require staff to avoid 'offensive or stereotypical assumptions'.  

'The BBC has made strenuous efforts in the last five years to serve minority ethnic viewers more effectively,' says Ben Summerskill. 'Gay people are forced to pay the BBC £126.50 a year on pain of imprisonment if they fail. We hope that the BBC will now develop for the first time a similar sense of obligation to lesbian and gay licence-payers.'  

The report suggests eight key recommendations to the BBC. These include provision of urgently-needed 'balanced and unsensational' coverage in its news and current affairs programmes, developing authentic gay characters throughout drama and soap outputs and including six per cent of gay contestants in game shows, reflecting the wider British population.    

Notes   1. Researchers monitored BBC One and BBC Two during eight weeks between May and July 2005 for references to lesbian and gay people and gay sexuality, capturing 168 hours of prime-time viewing between 7-10pm.   2. Six minutes balanced coverage of gay people¹s lives in 168 hours included an interview with singer Rufus Wainwright. However, the monitored coverage included a further 30 negative or derogatory references to gay people broadcast on 22 different programmes.   3. Treasury actuaries now estimate six per cent of the adult population to be lesbian or gay. That indicates that they contribute £190 million per annum to the BBC as licence-payers.   4. The research was carried out by Professor Gill Valentine and Dr Charlotte Kenton of the University of Leeds and Katherine Cowan, policy officer at Stonewall.  

Full report

Andy Forrest, Stonewall Tel 020 7881 9441
28 February 2006

Six percent of UK is gay

Just over 6% of the UK population is lesbian or gay, according to the first official figures to be released by the government.

The statistics, released by the Department of Trade and Industry, are expected to finally call an end to the debate over how much of the country is gay.

Additionally, campaigners hope it will end opponents of pro-gay laws insisting that gay people are in such a minority that protections against discrimination are a waste of government¹s time. Previously, some politicians who have consistently voted against gay rights have argued that as few as 1 in 100 people are gay.

Stonewall¹s Ben Summerskill said the numbers are "welcome and long overdue".

"This is a significant moment," he said. "For the first time the Government has robustly acknowledged the existence of a substantial number of gay people in Britain."

The figures are based on a series of studies over the last 15 years compiled by the DTI, which handles laws aimed at minority groups. The 6% figure roughly translates as around 3.6 million people from across the country.

Those behind the numbers say this will obviously vary in different areas, particularly rural and urban centres. Additionally, they say there is still a lack of information about Britain¹s LGBT communities. "It is based on a number of studies by different interest groups, but fundamentally there is very little reliable information about the size of the lesbian, gay and bisexual group," a spokesperson told the Telegraph newspaper.

Ben Townley, GAY.COM
Monday 12 December, 2005

Other research

In The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Wellings et al 1994) some 93% of respondents were attracted exclusively to the opposite sex, leaving a balance of 7% of the population. However several surveys point to about five per cent of the population of London, and one per cent outside London. Mintel estimates 4% of the adult population, representing 1.9 million consumers.

In October 2002 The Observer asked people:

How would you define your sexuality?
93% said Heterosexual
3% Homosexual
3% Bisexual
1% Didn't know

Have you ever had sexual contact with someone of the same sex?
11% Yes
89% No

Should gay sex be made illegal?
23% Yes
77% No

Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?
50% Yes
50% No

Should same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children?
41% Yes
59% No

Should the age of consent for homosexual sex be the same as for heterosexual sex?
58% Yes
42% No

Hate crime against youngsters
83% of young gay people have experienced verbal abuse
47% have suffered anti-gay violence

Fifth of gay people are parents

One third of gay parents live with their children. One in five gay people in Scotland is a parent, according to a new survey.

The vast majority of children come from heterosexual relationships with just one in ten from artificial insemination, the report said. More than a third of gay parents polled were living with their children, while a further one in six of those who had no children was considering starting a family.

The survey, carried out on behalf of the Glasgow-based organisation Beyond Barriers, questioned almost 1,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

"This research has been vital in ensuring that the voices of Scotland's LGBT community are heard" said Ruth Henry Beyond Barriers

It found women and people living in rural areas were more likely to be parents. Women were also more likely than men to have their children or partners' children living with them. More than four-fifths (85%) of children were the result of heterosexual relationships, compared to just 9% which were produced through artificial insemination.

The survey also found more than two-thirds of gay people had been verbally abused or threatened, mostly by strangers in the street. Almost a quarter (23%) had been physically assaulted by someone who assumed they were gay, but only 17% of people reported assaults to the police.

Most of those who did not report attacks said they believed it was a waste of time or assumed the police would not act on the information. However, 43% of those who did make a formal complaint felt it had been handled well.

Three in five of those questioned said they would be keen to formalise their relationship in a civil partnership if it was possible. Almost half (45%) said they were worried about growing old, with loneliness, isolation and ill health the most common sources of fear.

Ruth Henry, project manager for Beyond Barriers, said: "This research has been vital in ensuring that the voices of Scotland's LGBT community are heard." Rowena Arshad, Scotland commissioner for the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: "The results show very clearly the level of discrimination and prejudice experienced on a day-to-day basis by the LGBT community. "This research exposes the need to tackle this discrimination at every level and we hope it will encourage all individuals and organisations to take on this challenge with renewed vigour and determination."

BBCi Tuesday, 18 February, 2004

How much tax do gay people pay?

We estimate that there are about 560,000 lesbian and gay people of working age in the UK, with an average wage of £20,000 this represents about £2,500 million income tax p.a. How much of this is spent on services for young gay people? Gay Council Tax contributions probably amounts to about £170 million p.a. When are we going to get our fair share?

So on a conservative estimate that means:

5% of 8m Londoners = 400,000
1% of 52m elsewhere = 520,000

About 61% of the population is aged between 16 and 59/64 years.
TOTAL number of working age lesbians and gays = 560,000

Average earnings are about £19,994 pa
At 20% tax, annual gay income tax paid = £2,500,000,000

Average disposable income = £8,315 pa
Annual gay disposable income = £4,656,400,000

AverageCouncil Tax payments, say £300 pa
Annual gay council tax contribution = £168,000,000

Source: - April 2000

So do gay people get their money's worth?

Of course our income tax goes to provide the range of services - health, education, defence, etc - that our society needs. However, gay people are constantly being discriminated against when it comes to fair economic treatment. And most of us remember that in our young 'coming out' years what we needed was some role models, some help in finding our own identity, and some ideas where we could meet like-minded young people. What we did not need was prejudice, bullying because we were different, and castigation from bishops and the media.

Gay people do not want our tax contributions to be spent 'promoting' homosexuality, we all realise that being gay is not a choice. We only want to support those young people who are making up their own minds that they are gay. One of the Christian fundamentalist leaflets published was horrified that 'over £1million' of taxpayers money was spent supporting gay young people. But we are taxpayers too!

We say ... only £1million? - We want our fair share!

© Stephen Coote & Associates

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