For the first time ever the Government has released its official estimate of the numbers of gays and lesbians in the UK. Apparently the exercise to try and quantify the proportion of the population that is gay was conducted to establish the potential impact of the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Act, permitting civil partnerships between same-sex partners to be legally recognised, thus giving rise to various obligations and privileges hitherto available only to married (therefore heterosexual) couples.
The figures show that slightly over 6 per cent of the UK population is thought to be lesbian/gay and government actuaries believe that by 2050 3.3 per cent of homosexuals over 16 years old may have registered civil partnerships, compared with the roughly one third of the heterosexual population which it is believed will be married.
Another interesting nugget in the government's figures is that "the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says there are an estimated 1.5 million to two million homosexuals and bisexuals in the 30 million-strong workforce", roughly comparable with the overall level of employment amongst the whole adult population. The DTI estimate is based on a number of studies over the past 15 years.
Although the figures are in no way definitive [how could they be?], they do probably represent a pretty realistic estimate and I think it is extrmely helpful to have this kind of recognition that gays/lesbians are [and always have been] a significant sector of the population, with needs and resources as valid as any other demographic within our society.