The world of being gay
Pridermarches, festivals and events celebrating the cultural, social and legal rights of the LGBTIQA (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queen and Asexual) community are held in most parts of the world. However, there are still pockets of the globe where being homosexual is considered a criminal offense.
In these communities, both men and women are considered outcasts, some are jailed and others are punished by death. In 2017, The Guardian reported there are still 8 countries where engaging in homosexual activity can result in the death penalty. These countries fall within the African, Middle Eastern and Southern Asian regions.
Although attitudes have evolved significantly in the West, there are still some who are forced by their families or religious organisations to undergo conversion therapy. This type of therapy aims to turn a gay person straight.
To date, there is no empirical evidence that proves changing a person's sexuality is possible. It's an intrusive process that often leads to a lack of self-esteem. As far back as 1935, Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, wrote this to a parent requesting he perform conversion therapy on her gay son; "(homosexuality) is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness."
So, how many people in the world are gay?
Getting accurate data is tricky. Many people won't admit their sexuality to themselves - let alone in a survey. For others, it's more complex.
For example, are heterosexuals with previous homosexual experiences counted as gay? Some researchers even segregate results between those who had orgasms and those who did not. Different surveys have varying methodologies.
Even how questions are phrased can lead to mixed results. Given research has its limitations, is it still possible to determine approximately what percentage of the population is gay?
While it is difficult to know precisely what percentage of the world is gay. Looking at the US, one of the western world's largest populations, we can get a gauge on some mainstream data. A 2015 Gallup poll reported that 3.8 percent of Americans identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Interestingly, in that same poll, it was revealed that the American public estimated that number to be 23%.
How many Australians are gay?
To understand what percentage of Australia is gay, a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission gives us some insight. In 2014 it published results that showed up to 11 in 100 Australians have a diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex.
They also disclosed that the number of same-sex couples in 2011 has more than tripled since 1996. The Wikipedia article on the demographics of sexual orientation provides a comprehensive recap of this research.
A more recent study conducted by Tom Wilson and Fiona Shalley at Charles Darwin University found 3.2% of the total adult population 18+ identified as non-heterosexual.
To further understand 'LGBTIQA statistics Australia', Roy Morgan Research produced a report in 2015 titled Is Australia getting gayer–and how gay will we get? The findings were based on a longitudinal study that ran from 2006 to 2014. It involved over 180,000 men and women in various age clusters. As the years progressed, the percentage of people who identified as homosexual grew from 2.4% in 2006-2008 to 3.1% n 2009-2011 and finally at 3.4% in 2012-2014.
Whatever the percentage, through education and with compassion and understanding it is only getting easier LGBTIQA community to keep coming out of the closet and ultimately help provide true statistical data.