The 22 official surveys that estimate the number of lesbian, gay and bisexual Britons would disgrace the back of an envelope. According to one, 0.9% of Britons are not heterosexual. Another puts that figure at 5.5%. Guesstimates for the transgender population are fuzzy, too. The government “tentatively” reckons there are 200,000-500,000. So Lisa Power, who co-founded Stonewall, an lgbt charity, says she is delighted that statisticians plan to ask for the first time about sexual orientation and gender identity in the next census, in 2021. “If you don’t count, you don’t count.”
Policymakers will find the figures helpful. lgbt folk have more mental-health troubles than straight people, says Paul Twocock of Stonewall. Wonks armed with data ought to be able to meet this demand more accurately. The government struggles to budget for policies to promote minority rights, like those that allow gay marriage or ban employment discrimination. Census data would let councils see the extent to which such minorities were represented in their areas. Doctors’ surveys suggest an uneven spread among London boroughs, for example. One in ten residents in Lambeth—which includes Vauxhall, a gay hotspot—say they are not straight, compared with one in 70 in Havering.