Ever wondered just how many Australians identify as LGBTQI? A straight question deserves a straight answer, right?
Well, when it comes to human sexuality, the answers might not be as straight we some of us think.
According to 2014 figures from Roy Morgan Research, the proportion of Australians who identify themselves as gay or lesbian is increasing.
In fact, those who say they are homosexual has been on the up since 2008, when 2.4 per cent of the population agreed with the statement: “I consider myself a homosexual.”
By 2011 that figure was 3.1 per cent and by 2014 the figure had risen to 3.4 per cent.
But these figures don’t tell the whole story.
These latest figures show that 4.6 per cent of Australian teenagers (14-19) now agree they are homosexual (up from 2.9 per cent in 2006-08), rising to a peak of around one in 15 people in their 20’s (6.5 per cent, up from 4.4 in 2006-08).
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But this figure drops to 4.2 per cent for people in their 30s, 2.8 per cent in their 40s and drops further still to 1.7 per cent among those aged 50 and above, although all these figures represented increases from the previous survey in 2011.
According to Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine, the consistent drop certainly doesn’t mean that homosexuality suddenly “disappears” after age 30, but rather that older Australians with less progressive views are less likely to respond honestly about their sexuality.
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“One can intuitively understand why the rate rises from 14-19 to 20s, as more young people ‘come out’,” says Michele.
“But the subsequently decreasing prevalence suggests some older respondents are less candid.
“Whether this is due to their being ‘in the closet’, more concerned with privacy, or perhaps less agreeable to the black-and-white nature of the question, we might take the 20s rate – 6.5 per cent today, but potentially still not done rising – as the most accurate and forthright overall figure.
“Across all age groups, men are more likely than women to agree that they consider themselves as homosexual.”
She says that the rising rate across all age groups shows that people who consider themselves homosexual are more open today than ever before.
“Finding out the ‘real’ number, therefore, is less about getting a head-count and more a gauge of just how open we are,” she says.