Two-thirds of same-sex couples in 2018 not married or in civil partnership

More than two-thirds of the UK’s lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) population were unmarried or had not entered into a civil partnership in 2018, figures have shown.

Some 68.7% of people aged 16 and over who identified as LGB said they were not married or in a civil partnership, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is double the proportion of those who identified as straight or heterosexual and single.

The ONS said this could be because younger people are more likely to identify as LGB while the average age at which people are getting married is increasing.

And legal unions for same-sex couples have only recently become available in the UK.

The ONS also said more couples are choosing to cohabit before or instead of marriage.

Civil partnerships were introduced for same-sex couples in the UK in December 2005 and same-sex marriage has been available in England, Wales and Scotland since 2014 and in Northern Ireland from 2020.

Since 2014, the proportion of married LGB couples in the UK increased from 0.8% to 7.3% while those in civil partnerships decreased from 12.3% to 6.5%.

This suggests that an increasing number of those who do want to formalise their relationship are turning to marriage.

Sophie Sanders, from the ONS’ population statistics division, said: “People in their late teens and early twenties are more likely to identify as LGB than older age groups.

“Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of the LGB population are single and have never married or entered into a civil partnership.

“This reflects the younger age structure of this population, the changing attitudes of the general population to marriage and the fact that legal unions have only been recently available for same-sex couples.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The data was taken from the annual population survey (APS), which collects information on self-perceived sexual identity from people in households aged 16 and over in the UK.

It shows the overall proportion of the UK population identifying as heterosexual or straight has decreased from 95.3% in 2014 to 94.6% in 2018.

This is the largest year on year change since 2014 when the data set began.

The proportion identifying as LGB increased from 1.6% in 2014 to 2.2% in 2018.

In 2018, there were an estimated 1.2 million people aged 16 years and over identifying as LGB.

Younger people, aged 16 to 24, were most likely to identify as LGB in 2018 (4.4%).

In England, people in London were most likely to identify as LGB (2.8%) while people in the North East were least likely (1.8%).

Men (2.5%) were more likely to identify as LGB than women (2.0%) in 2018.

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