Census reveals first data on sexuality and gender by religion and ethnicity

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A higher proportion of people in England and Wales with Muslim, Sikh or Hindu backgrounds have a different gender identity to the one at birth than those who identify as Christian, the first survey of its kind reveals.

There are also higher proportions of people identifying as gay or lesbian, bisexual or another sexual orientation (LGB+) among those who say they are Buddhist or Jewish than Christian.

The data was collected as part of the census that took place in England and Wales on March 21 2021, but which has just been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The census included for the first time questions on sexual orientation and gender identify, which were voluntary for people aged 16 and over.

The latest data breaks down the responses for sexuality and gender by various characteristics, including ethnicity and religion.

(PA Graphics)

Three religious groups had a higher proportion of people identifying as LGB+, though their overall numbers were smaller.

Nearly 246,000 people told the census they identified as Buddhist, of which 7.3% (just under 18,000) also identified as LGB+, while almost 214,000 identified as Jewish, of which 4.5% (9,600) identified as LGB+.

Of the 823,000 people in the Hindu group, 1.8% (14,400) identified as LGB+.

The two other main religious groups, Sikh and Muslim, had a smaller proportion identifying as LGB+, at 1.5% and 1.4% respectively.

However, of the 17.4 million people in England and Wales who told the census they had “no religion”, nearly 965,000 or 5.6% identified as LGB+.

Tuesday’s data also shows that, of the 2.7 million people identifying as Muslim, nearly 40,000 said their gender was different from the sex registered at birth: a smaller number than in the Christian group, but a higher proportion, at 1.5%.

There were also higher proportions among people identifying as Buddhist (1.3%), Sikh (1.0%), Hindu (0.9%) and Jewish (0.6%), though the numbers are again small, at around 3,000, 4,000, 8,000 and 1,000 respectively.

(PA Graphics)

Among white English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British the figure was was 3.1%, with 1.9% for both Asian and black ethnic groups.

The figures are likely to be influenced by a range of factors, such as age, educational background and health, the ONS said.

For example, people who told the census they identify as Muslim have the youngest average age (27) of any religious group, while those who reported “no religion” have an average age of 32.

By contrast, those identifying as Christian have a median average age of 51 years, compared with 40 years for the overall population.

When looking at gender by ethnicity, the highest proportion to say their gender identity is different from their sex registered at birth was among people identifying as black (1.6%), followed by the category “white Gypsy, Irish Traveller, Roma or other white” (1.1%), Asian (1.0%), mixed or multiple ethnicities (1.0%) and white Irish (0.5%).

The lowest proportion was for the white UK group, covering English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British, at 0.3%.

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