Pride month 2023: 9% of adults identify as LGBT+

Public opinion across 30 countries is widely favorable to protecting transgender people from employment and housing discrimination, but divided on other measures

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Public Affairs, US
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The Ipsos LGBT+ Pride 2023 survey finds that an average of 9% of adults in 30 countries identify as LGBT+, with sharp generational differences. Other findings include:

  • Increased LGBT+ visibility since the 2021 survey with large geographic variations remaining;
  • Majority support in most (but not all) countries surveyed for allowing same-sex couples to marry and to adopt children; and
  • Widespread support for protecting transgender people from employment and housing discrimination, but divided views on other pro-transgender measures.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform in February and March 2023 among more than 22,500 adults under the age of 75.  

Sexual orientation and gender identity: The share of the LGBT+ population averages 9%

On average, across the 30 countries surveyed, 3% of adults identify as lesbian or gay, 4% as bisexual, 1% as pansexual or omnisexual, and 1% as asexual.

Gen Zers are about twice as likely as Millennials and four times as likely as Gen Xers and Boomers to identify as bisexual, pansexual/ omnisexual, or asexual.

 

Men are more likely than women to identify as gay/lesbian/homosexual (4% vs. 1% on average globally), but both are equally likely to identify as bisexual, pansexual/omnisexual, or asexual.

Spain is where respondents are most likely to say they are gay or lesbian (6%) while Brazil and the Netherlands are where they are most likely to say they are bisexual (both 7%). Japan is the country they are least likely to identify as either gay or lesbian (less than 1%) and as bisexual (1%).

When asked about their gender identity, 1% on average globally describe themselves as transgender, 1% as non-binary, gender non-conforming, or gender fluid, and 1% as neither, but differently from male or female. There are also large differences between younger and older adults when it comes to their propensity to describe themselves as any of these. This is the case of 6% of Gen Zers and 3% of Millennials, compared to 1% of both GenXers and Boomers. And the gap is growing: +2 percentage points since 2021 among both Gen Zers and Millennials vs. +1 point or less among Gen Xers and Boomers.

Overall, the average share of the self-identified LGBT+ population[1] is 9%. The share of self-identified LGBT+ adults varies widely across generations and geographies: from a 30-country average of 18% among Gen Zers to 4% among Baby Boomers, and from 15% of all respondents in Brazil to 4% in Peru.

LGBT+ visibility is up, but still differs widely across countries

The visibility of LGBT+ people has increased since the previous LGBT+ Pride survey, two years ago. On average, across the 30 countries surveyed this year:

  • 47% of all adults say they have a relative, friend, or work colleague who is a lesbian/gay/ homosexual, up 5 points since 2021;
  • 26% say they know someone who is bisexual, up 2 points;  
  • 13% say they know someone who is transgender, up 3 points; and
  • 12% say they know someone who is non-binary, gender non-conforming, or gender fluid, up 3 points.

LGBT+ visibility varies widely across countries. Having a relative, friend, or work colleague who is lesbian/gay or bisexual is most commonly reported in Latin America, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Gender diversity is most visible throughout the Anglosphere, in Brazil, and especially in Thailand.

On the other hand, the visibility of different segments of the LGBT+ community is lowest in Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, and Poland.

Women are more likely than men to report knowing people of different sexual orientations and gender identities. Consistent with self-identification, the prevalence of knowing someone who is LGBT+ is much higher among younger adults than among older adults. Generational differences are particularly pronounced when it comes to knowing people who are bisexual and people who are non-binary/ gender non-conforming or fluid: in both cases, Gen Zers are twice as likely as Gen Xers, and three times as likely as Boomers, to say they do.

Majorities support same-sex marriage and parenting in most, but not all countries

On average, across the 30 countries surveyed, 56% say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally while 16% say they should be allowed to obtain some legal recognition, but not to marry and just 14% say they should not be allowed to marry or get any kind of legal recognition. Another 14% are not sure.

Support for same-sex marriage ranges from 49% to 80% in all 20 countries surveyed where it is legal. Among the other 10 countries, majorities in Italy and Thailand support same-sex marriage and majorities in all other countries except Turkey support at least some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. Opponents of any form of legal recognition for same-sex couples make up no more than one-third of all respondents in any of the countries surveyed.

 

Women are significantly more likely than men to support same-sex marriage with a difference between both of 10 percentage points on average globally.

In 2021, support for same-sex marriage was significantly higher in 13 of the 15 countries where Ipsos began tracking it in 2013. However, it has plateaued or declined in many countries over the past two years. Of the 23 countries Ipsos surveyed both in 2021 and this year, nine show a decline of 4 points or more in the percentage saying same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally (Canada, Germany, the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, Great Britain, Brazil, and Turkey), while only two show an increase of 4 points or more (France and Peru).

While views on same-sex parenting are warmer than those on same-sex marriage, they show similar patterns. Globally, 65% say same-sex couples are just as likely as other parents to raise children successfully and 64% say they should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexual couples do. These views are held by majorities in 26 countries, including several where same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt. The only countries where more people disagree than agree with both opinions are Poland, Turkey, Romania, and South Korea.

Again, women are more supportive of same-sex parenting than are men (by an average of about 10 points) as are younger adults vs. older adults.

Over the past two years, support for same-sex adoption has declined significantly in Sweden, the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, and Turkey, but it has increased significantly in France, Italy, Colombia, and Peru.

Support for protection from employment and housing discrimination is broader than for other pro-transgender measures

Globally, 67% say that transgender people face at least a fair amount of discrimination, compared with 19% who say they face little or no discrimination. Perceptions of discrimination are highest in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, and lowest in Switzerland, Germany, and Japan.

Majorities in each of the 30 countries surveyed (76% on average) agree that transgender people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and access to businesses such as restaurants and stores.

Other measures receive more lukewarm support: on average, 60% agree that transgender teenagers should be allowed to receive gender-affirming care with parental consent; 55% agree that transgender people should be allowed to use single-sex facilities (e.g., public restrooms that correspond to their gender); 53% agree that government-issued documents such as passports should have options other than “male” and “female” for people who do not identify as either; and 47% agree that health insurance systems should cover the costs of gender transition no differently than the costs of other medical procedures.

 

Among the 30 countries surveyed, support for various pro-transgender measures is consistently high in Thailand, Italy, Spain, and throughout Latin America; it tends to be lowest in South Korea, throughout Eastern Europe, in Great Britain, and in the United States where transgender rights and protections have become polarizing political issues.

Women and younger adults are more likely than men and older adults, respectively, to say the transgender community faces a lot of discrimination. They also show higher levels of support for all types of measures in favor of transgender people differences of about 6 to 9 points between women and men and between Gen Zers and Boomers. Partly driving this generational gap, Gen Xers and Boomers are more likely than younger adults to have no opinion about specific transgender issues or about the amount of discrimination transgender people face, possibly because they are less likely to know a transgender person.  

About the study 

These are the results of a 30-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online survey platform between February 17 and March 3, 2023. For this survey, Ipsos interviewed a total of 22,514 adults aged 18-74 in Canada, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in all other countries


Notes 

[1] Identifying as any of lesbian/gay/homosexual, bisexual, pansexual/omnisexual, or asexual, AND/OR describing themselves as any of transgender, non-binary/gender non-conforming/gender-fluid, or differently but neither male nor female

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Public Affairs, US

Society