Statistics - same-sex relationships and homosexuality

Homosexual graphicThere are always questions about statistics... regarding homosexuality and homosexual relationships.

This page contains statistics about homosexuality... the number of homosexuals, the number of those in relationships and the nature of those relationships and drug use by homosexuals.

1. Number of homosexuals in Australia
Nationwide statistics - 1.2% of adults identify as homosexual or lesbian.
* 1.6% of adult men identified as homosexual and 0.8% of women as lesbian.
* 1.4% of women and 0.9% of men said they were bisexual.
Source: The 2003 'Sex in Australia' survey of 20,000 people, with a special weighting to Sydney's homosexual centre.
Conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University.
Published in Australian & NZ Journal of Public Health, Vol 27 No 2 2003 ISSN 1326 0200. We have a copy of this publication in our office.
The ARCSHS website originally had an overview of the study but this is no longer available.
A 4 page pdf Summary of the results of the Study - posted on a University of Melbourne website - click here.
(Original post on ARCSHS is no longer available).

Family Voice has a good overview article - dealing with the number of homosexuals in Australia, the '10% myth' and the proportion of homosexual couples compared to the number of heterosexual couples in Australia.
How many homosexuals are there in Australia?, Family Voice, October 2012.

Data from other countries

The official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website in the USA states, "Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM))a represent approximately 2% of the United States population." (Source: CDC Fact Sheet)

In July 2014... the official data - sexual orientation was included in the national health interview for the first time...
"The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual." That gives a total of 2.3% - 1.1% said “I don’t know the answer” or said they were something else.” Read media article - click here.
The REPORT: Sexual Orientation and Health Among U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2013

In October 2012, the polling organisation, Gallup, revealed that they have asked more than 121,000 US adults the question, "Do you, personally, identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?"
The result.... is 3.4% (Source - Gallup poll, Oct 18, 2012)

The Gallup report notes other surveys that have been done, saying "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Survey of Family Growth asked a sexual orientation question of about 12,000 young adults aged 18 to 44 in 2002 and of more than 20,000 adults in its 2006-2010 survey. The 3.4% figure is similar to a 3.8% estimate made by one of the authors of this study (Gates), averaging a group of smaller U.S. surveys conducted from 2004 to 2008."

In that study, the results separated the people who identified as homosexual (gay or lesbian - 1.7%) from those who identified as bisexual - 1.8%. 

Meanwhile, with all the talk about homosexuality, people often think there are many more homosexuals than there actually are. A 2011 Gallup poll in the USA found that US adults thought about 25% of the adult community were homosexual (source).

2009 data from Statistics Canada
From website:

"The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Cycle 2.1, was the first Statistics Canada survey to include a question on sexual orientation.
1.1% — The percentage of Canadians aged 18 to 59 who reported in 2009 that they consider themselves to be homosexual (gay or lesbian).
0.9% — The percentage of Canadians aged 18 to 59 who reported in 2009 that they consider themselves to be bisexual.

In 2004 the data was:
1.3% of men and 0.7% of women considered themselves homosexual.
0.9% of women, compared with 0.6% of men, said they were bisexual.
Source: Canadian Community Health Survey, June 2004. A Canadian government survey of 83,000 people. Ref: Statistics Canada. Click here.

United Kingdom - 2010
Prior to the passing of the Civil Partnerships Act in 2004, the UK Treasury estimated that 5% to 7% of the population were homosexual. These figures were quite inflated....

The percentage of homosexuals in the UK is much lower. In 2010, a large survey in the UK, conducted by the Office for National Statistics, reported on the number of homosexuals in the UK. They surveyed 238,206 people and found that 1.5% of people say they are "gay, lesbian or bisexual."
Read the Report on the ONS website - click here.
The Report also has a useful list of percentages found in previous surveys - see page 15.
The Guardian has extracted and summarised the data from the ONS Report - click here.
View spreadsheet - click here.

The Christian Institute notes "Only one adult in 100 is a homosexual, according to new figures which cast doubt on the amount of public money currently being lavished on the homosexual agenda. The figures, from a vast survey of almost half a million adults carried out by the Office for National Statistics, also revealed that over 70 per cent of the population identify themselves as Christian.
"The Integrated Household Survey, which analysed the responses of almost 450,000 adults, showed that just one per cent of the UK’s population are homosexuals, and just 0.5 per cent are bisexuals."
Read the CI Report.
Read the Report on Sexual Identity from this survey by the National Office of Statistics.
Note: The IHS survey questioned around "450,000 adults". The report says "The sexual identity question was asked of all household members aged 16 and above who were present in the household at the time of interview or were interviewed by phone resulting in a total of 247,623 eligible adults to be asked the sexual identity question. Of these, 238,206 (96 per cent) provided valid responses." (See page 10) 

Where did the 10% figure come from?
Alfred Kinsey
conducted 'research' and published reports in 1948 and 1952. He suggested that sexuality is on a spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality.
Kinsey wrote, in his 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male: "10 percent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55." (Source)
The Kinsey Institute quotes that - and gives various studies with much lower figures since then. (Source)

2. Number of homosexual "couples"
Same sex couples make up about 0.46 % of all couples in Australia. Data obtained from census statistics, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

2001 census
The 2001 census showed that over 8 million men and women were living as partners in couple relationships and that 12% of these were 'de facto married' and 19,594 were same-sex couples.
The census didn't actually ask people if they were in such a couple relationship, or for their sexual orientation, but the ABS deduced this from the responses given. See Report below by Birrell and Rapson.
Ten years prior to that, the 1991 census indicated that around 7.2 million men and women were living as partners in couple relationships and that 8% of these were de facto married.
The 1996 census found around 10,000 same-sex couples (ABS Report).
 3310.0 Marriages and Divorces, Australia, Nov 2003, Australian Bureau of Statistics. Click here.
- The ABS has a report on the statistics from the 2001 census: Same-sex couple families
- The number of same-sex couples in the 2001 census is discussed in the following paper from Monash University researchers, Bob Birrell and Virginia Rapson, published in People and Place.
Paper: How Gay is Australia?

2006 census
The ABS notes that 50,000 people said they were in a same-sex couple relationship (25,000 couples). (Source)
[2011 census data will be released from June 2012 up to the end of 2013. (Source)]

2011 census
The 2011 census was the first time that the ABS census actually asked if people were in a same-sex couple relationship. Although same-sex 'marriage' was not legal in Australia, the census analysis included a figure for 'married' on the basis that people chose to tick the 'Married' box in the marital status question.
From the ABS website:
"In 2011,33,714 same-sex couples were counted in the Census. Consistent with the legal situation in Australia, the overwhelming majority of same-sex couples were described as de facto partners (96%), while there were 1,338 same-sex couples where one person was described as the husband or wife of the other." (Source: ABS, Same-sex couple families - June 2012)


From Statistics Canada
"45,300 — The number of same-sex couples in 2006. Of these, about 7,500 (16.5%) were married couples and 37,900 (83.5%) were common-law couples."

Sweden and Norway
Statistics for Sweden show only 0.55% of couples are same-sex and in Norway 0.68%.

In the UK, the 2004 census shows 10.3 million married couples, 2 million heterosexual de facto couples and 39,261 same-sex couples. This gives 0.318% of all couples are homosexual couples. [The Times, 4 Feb 2004]

3. Homosexual marriage and 'civil union' relationships
In The Netherlands, where same sex couples are allowed to 'marry', a recent study published in AIDS magazine, found that the average length of a relationship between two men is 1.5 years. In addition the study found that they have eight other 'partners' each year.
Source:Lifesite. Click here.

The Netherlands
Official statistics from The Netherlands government show that few homosexuals actually get married. "Another important change in formal union behaviour in The Netherlands is the fact that homosexuals may not get married. This has been legal since 2001. ... The number of homosexual marriage is still small; in 2002 just under 1,000 marriages between two men and fewer still between two women were registered."
'Economic circumstances and union dissolution in the 1990s in The Netherlands' ,
Dr D Manting and Dr D Loeve, Statistics Netherlands.

In 'homosexual-friendly' Scandinavian countries, where same-sex 'civil union' type relationships have existed for 10 years, male-male union breakdown ('divorce') is 50% higher than heterosexual unions. For female-female coupling the breakdown figure is 170% higher.
Source: Deathblow to Marriage, Kurtz, National Review.
Click here.

4. Homosexual relationships in Australia
These figures are taken from studies done by the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH) (formerly the National Centre in HIV Social Research) at The University of New South Wales as well as the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society (formerly the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research).

These bodies survey homosexual men in major cities and publish the data. The most regular publication is the 'Gay Community Periodic Survey' series.
These surveys, from 2006 onwards, plus others, are all posted online on the CSRH website - click here.
We have previous editions in our office.

The 2014 Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey has now been published online.

Regular and Casual Partners
The 2013 Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey interviewed homosexual men at Melbourne's midsumma carnival and homosexual venues and found that:
- 33% of homosexual men say they have 'only regular' partners or are in a 'regular monogamous' relationship,
- 26.9% have regular PLUS casual relationships.
- 24.2 % have only casual sex.
- 15.9% said they were not in a current relationship. (MGCPS 2013, Page 12)

Other years and cities for comparison . . .
2000 - In 2000, the MGCPS found that 27.6% of homosexual men say they have 'only regular' partners, 35.1% have regular PLUS casual relationships and 24.4 % have only casual sex. 12.9% said they had no relationship in the past 6 months. (data at Table 8, P 12)
However 70.3% said they had sexual contact with "casual partners" in previous 6 months. (Table 19, Page 18).

2008 - The Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey 2008 found that 26.8% of homosexual men say they have 'only regular' partners, 30.6% have regular PLUS casual; 25.9% have only casual sex and 16.7% said they had no sexual contact with men at the time of completing the survey. (Page 21)

The Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey 2008 found that "In 2006, 31.3% of the sample reported having had sex with both regular and casual male partners in the six months prior to the survey (see Figure 6). Those who had had sex only with casual partners made up 26% of the sample; another 28% had had sex only with regular partners. The remaining 13.7% reported not having had sex with a man in the previous six months." (Page 16, Table 8).

The Sydney Gay Community Periodic Survey (February 1996 to August 2006) summarises and compares the data for a 10 year period.
In 2006, 53% of the men said they were in a regular relationship. (p 10)

Group sex:
In 2008, two additional questions were asked about group sex in the MGCPS.
They reported, "Among men with regular partners, 32.3% had "engaged in group sex involving their partner and at least one other man".
Among those with casual partners, a much higher proportion - 50.8% - reported that they had engaged in group sex involving at least two other casual male partners." (Page 21-22)

In the 2013 Survey, the question was asked: "20. In the last 6 months, how often did you have group sex involving at least two other men?"
The response to this question was NOT included in the report - only a more limited question about group sex associated with drug use.

Gay men who have group sex get better STI care if they feel confident about being open about this with their doctor
AIDSMap, Michael Carter, Monday, January 26, 2009.
Research regarding HIV and STD testing of homosexual men in Australia who have group sex.

Number of Sex Partners
(MGCPS Feb. 2000) When questioned about the number of sex partners in the previous six months:
One - 20.7 %; 2 to 10 - 39 %; 11 to 50 - 26.2 %; Over 50 - 7.8 %.
Thus 73 % have had more than one partner in the previous six months.
This question is now not usually asked...

Length of Relationships
From Sydney Men and Sexual Health (SMASH) 1995:
This survey questioned men as to the length of their relationship.
For those in a relationship, the data was:
Up to 6 months: 21.1%; 6-11 months: 12%; 1-5 years: 34.7%; Over 5 years 16.5%.
An additional 15.7% had a relationship that had ended in the past 6 months, leaving 84.3% of those 'in a relationship' giving data about the length of a relationship.
Study by NCHSR and NCHECR.
Again, this question is no longer asked. 

5. Drug use by homosexuals
It is well known that homosexuals often use drugs at a higher rate than the general community.
The 2013 Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey  found that "Recreational drug use in the six months prior to survey was common within the sample, with the most frequently used drugs being amyl/poppers (33.4%), marijuana (27.7%), ecstasy (16.6%) and Viagra (15.2%)." [Page 15]
From Table 24, around 53% of those interviewed used one or more drugs - 47% had used no drugs in the preceding 6 months.


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