Excuse me, are you gay ?
I spotted this item on the BBC News website last night BBC News – UK gay, lesbian and bisexual population revealed which revealed the results of a survey of peoples sexuality. According to the survey
“The data showed that 95% said they were heterosexual, 1% gay or lesbian, 0.5% bisexual, 0.5% other, and the remaining 3% either did not know or did not answer.”
The article presented just a brief report on the survey, with no attempt at commentary or explanation – or pictures – but did post links to other reports about the survey.
One of these was to the Mail On Line UK’s homosexual population size revealed: Just 1.5% of Britons say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual | Mail Online Interesting isn’t it how even from the title there’s been a subtle change in tone – now we’re saying that “just” 1.5% of Britons are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Introducing an element of emotion into otherwise fairly factual reporting.
To be fair the article in the Mail is more or less the same one as the BBC’s and again just prints the numbers, with very little in way of interpretation, It does however give us a nice picture of what we’re clearly led to believe, are two gay men. You can tell they are gay because they are sitting together, with a thermos jug, clearly drinking milky coffee instead of lager, as heterosexual men would do. The Mail do however specify that the two men are models – whether this because they couldn’t find any real gay men, or because they’ve assumed that all male models are gay is a little hard to tell.
The Sun meanwhile take a different stance with the same information :Just one in 100 Brits are gay | The Sun |News Clearly being of the opinion that such a small minority of the population doesn’t deserve to be given any priority by the Government, the Sun says
“Family groups today said the figures raised serious questions about the millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash spent on gay causes.”
I wonder which “Family Groups” they mean ? – well the one they mention is the rather strange “Family Education Trust” whose spokesman Norman Wells told The Sun
“This survey suggests that previous estimates of 6-9 per cent are wide of the mark and that the number of people who say they are gay, lesbian or bisexual is far smaller than the government and gay rights activists would have us believe. Now we have a clearer view of the real figures, we need to start asking some serious questions about the vast sums of taxpayers’ money being spent on such a small minority and the disproportionate amount of attention they receive both in Whitehall and in the media.”
The Sun, not to be outdone by The Mail, treats us to a picture of a pair of lesbians. You can tell they are lesbians because they are wearing scanty underwear and suspenders, and are frolicking on a bed together. The Sun don’t like sharing their pictures of scantily clad lesbians though, so you’ll need to visit the site. A word to the editor though – these women don’t really convince as lesbians. They look more like a sort of heterosexual male fantasy of what lesbians should be like.
I’ll get on to the “Family Education Trust” in moment but first let’s just think about those numbers. We have a total of 5% of people in the survey NOT saying that their sexuality is heterosexual. Which would make any previous estimate of 6% to 9%, not really that far off the mark at all, and let’s be honest – if someone knocked on your door out of the blue and asked you anything at all – wouldn’t you be tempted to stray away from any answers that might prove embarrassing ? Frankly, I would. In fact as a straight man I’d be tempted to say “I prefer not answer” on principle – because I’m not sure it’s anybody’s business but mine and my wife’s.
For some reason though some people do think other people’s sexuality is their business. Some of these people belong to the organisation that the Sun quotes – the “Family Education Trust”
Family – Education – Trust – Three words which just evoke all that’s good about the world, so surely this must be an organisation with a sound ethos ?
Well not exactly. This group – also known as Family & Youth Concern http://www.famyouth.org.uk/ really has some strange hang ups about all things sexual. They’ve published for example this report on sex education Too much, too soon : The government’s plans for your child’s sex education which amongst other things, campaigns against sex education in schools, advocates the promotion of sexual abstinence amongst unmarried people, and takes issue with the fact that some people “equate marriage with same-sex civil partnerships and (to) assume that both types of relationship are of equal benefit and stability”.
No ! And there’s me thinking they were of equal benefit and stability. What was I thinking ?
They also criticise some of the foremost players in the field of sexual health education – for instance the Family Planning Association (FPA) and Brook.
Perhaps their most distinctive little essay though is this : FAMILY EDUCATION TRUST RESPONSE TO THE WOMEN & EQUALITY UNIT CONSULTATION PAPER Getting Equal: Proposals to Outlaw Sexual Orientation Discrimination which attempts to persuade the reader that whilst homosexual people are to be valued, homosexual behaviour is not. So clearly sex is out. Not sure about holding hands though, don’t know about flirting either.
The paper states very unambiguously that the organisation feels that the law should allow people to treat those in heterosexual and homosexual relationships quite differently :
“there is a strong case for allowing service providers the liberty to draw a clear distinction between the two types of relationship and not be obliged in law to treat them as equal”
“teachers and schools should not be required to teach that homosexual activity is on a par with the sexual relationship between a husband and wife”
I could go on – suffice to say that this is not the innocent warm hearted bunch of folk that The Sun would like you to believe it to be.
Meanwhile looking back at the Mail today, they’ve upped the ante on last nights story. This time they run it with a slightly different slant Only 1 in 100 Britons is gay despite myth but 71% say they are Christian | Mail Online and draw attention to the other aspect of the same survey which had 71% of the sample giving their religion as Christian. They’ve also changed the picture this time to a real picture of a gay couple – MP Chris Bryant, and his partner Jaren Cranney.
Which all goes to show, really that we should not take raw data from surveys at face value without doing a lot of thinking first – as both the original mail article, and the BBC piece point out :
“All the survey’s statistics are considered experimental, or in a testing phase, as they have not yet been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority”
Which means : Take the figures with a pinch of salt, until they’ve been properly assessed. Try telling that to the Sun or the Mail though.
Seriously what on earth is wrong with them ? Why do they despise everyone who is slightly different from themselves ?
We will go on wondering.
In the mean time, whatever your sexuality, if the phone rings tonight, and someone at the other end asks you about your sexual preferences, think very carefully before you put the phone down – it might just be a national survey !
- Just one in 100 Brits are gay (thesun.co.uk)
- Official statistics reveal UK gay, lesbian and bisexual population (independent.co.uk)
- 1% in UK are gay, survey finds (mirror.co.uk)
- UK gay population size revealed (bbc.co.uk)
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