Type: Standard variable
Classifies people according to the responses to the sexual orientation question. This question was voluntary and was only asked of people aged 16 years and over.
Total number of categories: 9
|1||Straight or Heterosexual|
|2||Gay or Lesbian|
|7||All other sexual orientations|
|-8||Does not apply*|
*Students and schoolchildren living away during term-time, and children aged 15 years and under.
View all sexual orientation classifications.
There are a number of quality-related aspects of the census data on sexual orientation that you should be aware of when using estimates on this topic.
Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?
- Gay or Lesbian
- Other sexual orientation, write in
This question is voluntary.
The question was new for Census 2021 and there is no comparability to the 2011 Census.
Read about how we developed and tested the questions for Census 2021.
Why we ask the question
The answer helps local communities by allowing charities, public bodies, and local and central government to understand what services people might need.
This information helps monitor equality between groups of people of different sexual orientation. The answer will help public bodies to identify discrimination or social exclusion based on sexual orientation and work to stop it from happening.
This is the first time that the census in England and Wales has asked this question.
Comparability with the 2011 Census
This variable is new for Census 2021 and there is no comparability with the 2011 Census.
What does not comparable mean?
A variable that is not comparable means that it cannot be compared with a variable from the 2011 Census.
England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland comparisons
What does highly comparable mean?
A variable that is highly comparable means that it can be directly compared with the variable from Scotland and Northern Ireland. The questions and options that people could choose from may be slightly different, for example the order of the options may be swapped around, but the data collected is the same.
Census 2021 data that uses this variable
We use variables from Census 2021 data to show findings in different ways.
- get the sexual orientation dataset
- view sexual orientation data on a map
- view sexual orientation data for an area on Nomis (an Office for National Statistics service)
Other datasets that use this variable
- Sexual orientation (detailed)
- Sexual orientation by age and sex
- Sexual orientation by disability
- Sexual orientation by economic activity status
- Sexual orientation by ethnic group
- Sexual orientation by general health
- Sexual orientation by legal partnership status
- Sexual orientation by occupation
- Gender identity by sexual orientation
- Sexual orientation by age
- Sexual orientation by unpaid carer status
- Sexual orientation by type of central heating in household
- Sexual orientation by dwelling type
- Sexual orientation by family composition
- Sexual orientation by highest qualification held
- Sexual orientation by hours worked
- Sexual orientation by industry
- Sexual orientation by NS-SEC
- Sexual orientation by occupancy rating (bedrooms)
- Sexual orientation by occupancy rating (rooms)
- Sexual orientation by religion
- Sexual orientation by sex
- Sexual orientation by tenure