Thousands of Wigan residents identify with LGBTQ+ sexual orientation

Thousands of residents in Wigan identify with an LGBTQ+ sexual orientation, new census figures reveal for first time.

The Office for National Statistics introduced voluntary questions for people aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2021 census.

Stonewall described the publication of the figures as a “historic step forward” after more than two centuries of LGBT+ lives being “missing from the national record”.

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The ONS data shows 6,773 people in Wigan identified as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual when the census was carried out in March 2021 – 2.5 per cent of respondents.

ONS data shows 6,773 people in Wigan identified as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual when the census was carried out in March 2021

The most common LGB+ sexualities were gay or lesbian (57.4 per cent of those who did not identify as straight) and bisexual (35.2 per cent).

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The vast majority of residents said they were heterosexual (92 per cent).

A further 14,800 people in Wigan did not answer the question.

Across England and Wales, about 1.5 million people identified with an LGB+ sexual orientation in the 2021 census – 3.2 per cent of those aged 16 and over.

Overall, 1.5 per cent described themselves as gay or lesbian, 1.3 per cent described themselves as bisexual and 0.3 per cent selected “other sexual orientation”.

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ONS director Jen Woolford said the first census estimates were “crucial”, adding: “They will ensure decision-makers have the best information so they can better understand the extent and nature of disadvantage which people may be experiencing in terms of educational outcomes, health, employment and housing.”

The census also asked people aged 16 and over about gender identity, with 965 (0.4 per cent) Wigan residents stating they did not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth.

Of them, 216 people were trans men and 156 were trans women. A further 66 said they were non-binary.

About 11,900 people did not answer the voluntary question.

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Nationally, 262,000 people said their gender identity was different from their sex registered at birth – representing 0.5 per cent of the population aged 16 and over.

Nancy Kelley, Stonewall chief executive, said: “For the past two centuries of data gathering through our national census, LGBTQ+ people have been invisible, with the stories of our communities, our diversity and our lives missing from the national record.

“Today is a historic step forward after decades of Stonewall campaigning to record sexual orientation and gender identity in the census, finally painting an accurate picture of the diverse ‘Rainbow Britain’ that we now live in, where more and more of us are proud to be who we are.”

The LGBT Foundation said the data is a “huge first step in making LGBTQ+ people feel included” but added it will be years before the figures provide an accurate picture.

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The charity said: “The historic and ongoing attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities, particularly trans and non-binary people, will stop many from feeling safe to provide this information.

“Meanwhile, many LGBTQ+ people are living within households and environments where they are unable to be open about their gender identity, sexual orientation and trans identity."