LGBT consulting firm Out Now, has issued a statement to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that disputes the data that relates to the number of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the UK.

Out Now Consulting, the global LGBT marketing agency, has today written to the Director General of the Office for National Statistics, requesting the immediate withdrawal of data relating to gay and lesbian people on the grounds that it is inaccurate and misleading.

Out Now says that a flawed and poor research methodology used by the ONS renders it incapable of providing a correct measurement of homosexuality and bisexuality in the UK.

The ONS claims that research, part of the Integrated Household Survey, shows that “1.5 per cent of adults in the UK identified themselves as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual.”

Out Now disputes this figure, saying:

‘This claim is not only inaccurate as a true measure of the prevalence of homosexuality and bisexuality in the United Kingdom, it is dangerous as it is prone to misreporting and may lead to funding problems for organisations focused on the health of LGB people.
‘The research methodology you have employed is not suitable for the purpose of obtaining an accurate measure of homosexuality and bisexuality in the UK.’

The ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is the recognised national statistical institute for the UK. It is responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels. It also conducts the census in England and Wales every ten years.

An ONS spokesman said: ‘The question on sexual identity was developed and tested on a number of surveys in 2008 and was added to the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) in 2009. A prototype question was developed using focus groups to gain an understanding of the concept of sexual identity, and piloted on an ONS survey prior to inclusion in the IHS.

‘The sexual identity question was asked of respondents aged 16 years and over; it was not asked by proxy, and the question was asked in mainly face to face with some telephone interviews. The data have been collected to provide accurate statistics to underpin the equality monitoring responsibilities of public sector organisations and to assess the disadvantage or relative discrimination experienced by the lesbian, gay and bisexual population.

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‘The sexual identity measure is based on what the respondent to the IHS self declare. It is possible that a proportion of responders who are LGB answer with an alternative response to the ONS survey, however the ONS trials and pilots did not suggest this was the case to a significant degree despite concerns that it might be being raised at the time.

We are responding directly to the comments made by OutNow and we will examine their concerns.’
Out Now founder and Ian Johnson today wrote to the ONS saying:
“The data you are responsible for publishing is not fit for purpose and risks being used by those who may not ‘like’ gay, lesbian or bisexual people to undermine their rights. It may be used similarly to seek to reduce funding for government and NGO initiatives focused on LGB people in the UK.”

Social media users, have taken to Facebook and Twitter to also disagree with the claims from the ONS. Antony Simpson on Facebook wrote:

‘Disagree many, many more!’

Another wrote:

‘I think there’s many more gay people out there. So many are married to women and living a heterosexual life (with some ‘fun’ with men on the side, as we all know if we log on to Grindr and the like). Admittedly many of those people in marriages will perhaps be bisexual, but still I imagine there are a lot more gay people than anyone realises.’