Is 10% of the population really gay?

The 10% figure began as a misinterpretation of studies done in the 1940s by Alfred Kinsey and his associates. Kinsey reported that 37% of males in his studies admitted to experiencing at least one homosexual encounter to the point of orgasm. Kinsey suggested that these figures were underestimates - that the real percentage was even higher. The 10% figure was widely circulated by Harry Hay, the father of the homosexual "civil rights" movement, urging that homosexuality be seen no longer as an act of sodomy but as a 10% minority class.

More recent studies in countries around the world by credible research institutes and universities have consistently shown that less than 3% and perhaps less than 2% of males are homosexually active in a given year. Probably less than 5% of the adult male population engage in sustained homosexual practice over a significant period of adult life. Female homosexuality is estimated to be approximately half or less than the male rates and appears to characterize less than 2% of the female population.

Here is a list of some studies:

  1. The 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey, Cycle 2.1, was the first Statistics Canada survey to include a question on sexual orientation. 1.1% of Canadians aged 18 to 59 reported that they consider themselves to be homosexual (gay or lesbian).
  2. A survey of 135,000 Canadians found that 1.0% of the respondents identified themselves as homosexual and 0.7% identified themselves as bisexual. About 1.3% of men in the study considered themselves homosexual, and 0.7% of the women in the study considered themselves lesbians. Study by Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (2003).
  3. The largest and most thorough survey in Australia was conducted by telephone interview with 19,307 respondents between the ages of 16 and 59 in 2001/2002. The study found that 97.4% of men identified as heterosexual, 1.6% as gay and 0.9% as bisexual. For women 97.7% identified as heterosexual, 0.8% as lesbian and 1.4% as bisexual. Reference: "Sex in Australia: The Australian study of health and relationships", Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society. (Published as the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health vol 27 no 2.).
  4. In Ireland, a study of the responses of 7,441 individuals, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Insitute, found that 2.7% of men and 1.2% of women self-identified as homosexual or bisexual. Reference: Layte, Richard; et al. (2006). The Irish study of sexual health and relationships. Dublin: Crisis Pregnancy Agency. pp. 126. ISBN 1905199082.
  5. A study of 5,514 Canadian college and university students under the age of 25 found 1% who were homosexual and 1% who were bisexual. Study by King et al. (1988). Canada, Youth and AIDS Study. Kingston, ON: Queen's University.
  6. A study of 8,337 British men found that 6.1% had had "any homosexual experience" and 3.6% had "1+ homosexual partner ever." Study by Johnson, A.M. et al. (1992). Sexual lifestyles and HIV risk. Nature, 360(3), Dec. 3, 1992, 410-412.
  7. A French study of 20,055 people found that 4.1% of the men and 2.6% of the women had at least one occurrence of intercourse with person of the same sex during their lifetime. Study by ANRS: Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le Sida investigators (1992). AIDS and sexual behavior in France. Nature, 360(3), Dec. 3, 1992, 407-409.
  8. A Danish random survey found that 2.7% of the 1,373 men who responded to their questionnaire had homosexual experience (intercourse). Study by Melbye, M. & Biggar, R.J. (1992). Interactions between persons at risk for AIDS and the general population in Denmark. American Journal of Epidemiology, 135(6), 593-602.
  9. The USA National Health Interview Survey does household interviews of the civilian non-institutionalized population. The results of three of these surveys, done in 1990-1991 and based on over 9,000 responses each time, found between 2-3% of the people responding said yes to a set of statements which included "You are a man who has had sex with another man at some time since 1977, even one time." Study by Dawson, D. & Hardy, A.M. (1990-1992). National Centre for Health Statistics, Centres for Disease Control, Advance Data, 204, 1990-1992.
  10. In a random survey of 6,300 Norwegians, 3.5% of the men and 3% of the women reported that they had had a homosexual experience sometime in their life. Study by Sundet, J.M., et al. Prevalence of risk-prone sexual behaviour in the general population of Norway. In Global Impact of AIDS, edited by Alan F. Fleming et al. (New York: Alan R. Liss, 1988), 53-60.
  11. A national survey of American men found that 1.1% were involved in exclusive same-gender sexual activity over the 10 year period of the study. Study by John Billy, et al. The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States, Family Planning Perspectives 25 (1993)
  12. Another study of American men found that 1.6 to 2% had participated in some same-gender sex during the past year and 3.3% had participated occasionally or fairly often since adulthood. Study by Robert Fay, et al. Prevalence and Patterns of Same-gender Sexual Contact Among Men, Science 243 (1989).
  13. A third study of men in the USA found that 2.7% had participated in same-gender sex in the last year, 4.1% in the last 5 years and 4.9% since age 18. Study by Edward Lauman, et al. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the USA. 1994.
  14. A study of men in the USA, U.K and France found 0.82% (USA), 1.15% (UK) and 0.72% of men had exclusive same-gender sex over a 5-year period. Study by Randall Sell et al. The Prevalence of Homosexual Behaviour and Attraction in the United State, the United Kingdom and France: Results of National Population-based Samples, Archives of Sexual Behaviour 24 (1995).
  15. Four studies of American men over a 20 year period found the frequency of at least some same-gender sex by men in the last 12 months to be 1.9%, 1.2%, 2.4% and 2.0% respectively. Studies by Susan Rogers and Charles Turner. Male-Male Sexual Contact in the USA: Findings From Five Sample Surveys, 1970-1990. Journal of Sex Research 28 (1991).
  16. In the USA, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a gay and lesbian think tank, released a study in 2011 estimating based on its research that 1.7 percent of Americans between 18 and 44 identify as gay or lesbian. Reference: "How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender?" by Gary J. Gates, The WIlliams Institute, April 2011.