The UK’s Office of National Statistics has produced, for the first time, statistics relating to sexual identity and well-being.
It has found that gay, lesbian and bisexual people report lower well-being than straight people across all well-being measures.
This was most evident in the reporting of anxiety: significantly so for bisexual people.
The analysis covers 2013 to 2015. It took data from around 158,000 respondents of the Annual Population Survey (APS).
Key findings included
- Those who identify as heterosexual/straight report the greatest level of ‘life satisfaction: A score of 7.6 our of 10. This compares with 7.4 for gay/lesbian, and 7.2 for bisexuals. Other respondents identified as ‘other’ or ‘don’t know’ – both of whom reported similar life satisfaction as gay/lesbian people.
- When asked to rate their ‘happiness’ level, straight people scored just over 7.4 out of ten, compared to 7.2 (gay/lesbian) and 7.0 for bisexuals.
- When it come to scoring their anxiety, straight people averaged just over 2.8 out of 10. Gay/lesbian averaged 3.4 and bisexuals averaged 3.6.
- Three in every ten people (30.1%) who identify themselves as bisexual reported their anxiety as high (answering 6 to 10 out of 10). This compares with two in every ten people (19.5%) who identify themselves as heterosexual or straight.
As this is the first time this specific analysis has been carried out, the ONS says that the findings are ‘Experimental Statistics’. This means that they are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed,’ and it advises caution in interpreting them.
However, it draws on other studies to speculate on the reasons for the discrepancies, stating ‘discrimination in access to services (including health services) and in the workplace’ could play a part.
It also says that other factors have a role in the experience of well-being, such as whether someone is single or in a partnership.
‘These findings are no surprise to us’
Marcus Morgan, chair of Bisexual Index, told GSN: ‘These findings are no surprise to us.
‘It’s very stressful having your identity constantly attacked and erased and many bisexual people have contacted us to seek reassurance that it’s okay to be attracted to more than one gender.
‘They’ve said they don’t feel supported by either the LGBT community or the straight community. Sadly one of the effects of biphobia is to make it harder to access health services. Some therapists and doctors see our sexuality as another problem to address, others don’t believe we suffer any prejudice.’
‘Bisexuals experience double discrimination’
His views were echoed by psychotherapist Dominic Davies, of Pink Therapy.
‘These figures come as no surprise to those of us working in the mental health field with LGB people and support other research which finds poorer levels of mental health amongst bisexuals.
‘Bisexuals experience double discrimination – with hostility and marginalization from the lesbian and gay communities and homophobia and biphobia from the heterosexual communities.
‘There is also a lack of support for bi people especially those in mixed gender relationships who may feel unwelcome in lesbian or gay social spaces.’
Need help? Check out these helplines if you are in need of urgent support.