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Sexual Orientation

  • Mnemonic reference


  • Applicability


  • Type

    Derived Variable


Sexual orientation is an umbrella term covering sexual identity, attraction, and behaviour. The term sexual orientation may mean different things to different people.  


Total number of categories 6

Code Name
0 Not answered
1 Heterosexual/Straight
2 Gay or Lesbian
3 Bisexual
4 Other sexual orientation
-5 No code required - comprises children under 16 and full-time students living away from home during term time.

Source question or variables

Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?

  • Straight/Heterosexual
  • Gay or Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Other sexual orientation, please write in:

(This was a voluntary question for people aged 16 and over.)

Reason for asking

Considerable user and data need was identified for the inclusion of a sexual orientation question.

These numbers underpin the equality monitoring responsibilities of public sector organisations, which in turn informs policies and practices.

England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (2011) comparison

Scotland’s Census included a new question on sexual orientation in 2022. This means that we do not have comparable data for previous censuses.

The censuses in the rest of the UK asked the same question in 2021.