Most LGBT people are non-religious – Census

4 April, 2023

The overwhelming majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) people have ‘No religion’, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed.

Today’s release of detailed data from the 2021 Census provides the first-ever official figures on how religion or belief, and sexuality and gender identity, intersect. LGBT Humanists has said that the results were ‘unsurprising’ but that they underline the need for recognition of humanist marriages in England and Wales, as it is an issue that disproportionately affects same-sex couples, the majority of whom have no interest in marrying in a religious setting.

The new figures reveal that 62% of lesbian and gay people, 66% of bisexual people, and 63% of all LGB people ticked ‘No religion’. The Census also recorded that 36% of trans people ticked ‘No religion’, although the reliability of the trans figures has been questioned due to the possibility that certain communities may have misunderstood the question. It’s also not possible to precisely combine the overlapping LGB and trans figures. Nevertheless it is possible to estimate that around six in ten LGBT people ticked ‘No religion’.

The high numbers ticking ‘No religion’ were in spite of the Census question on religion being widely recognised as a biased and leading one – in reality England and Wales are even less religious, in terms of identity, belief, and practice than the Census results suggest. Research shows that those ticking ‘Christian’ are frequently not religious in their beliefs or practice – for example, less than half believe Jesus was a real person who was the son of god, died, and came back to life. In general, those who tick ‘Christian’ do so because they were christened, because their parents are/were Christian, or because they went to a Christian school.

Overall, 3.4% of people aged 16 or over identified as LGBT in the Census. This is lower than some other surveys have previously suggested, which may reflect that the question was voluntary. 8.5% of Census respondents did not answer either the question on sexual orientation or gender identity. As well as being more non-religious, the Census suggests that the LGBT population also skews younger.

In England and Wales, humanist marriages are not legally recognised – something the Government has been reviewing for almost ten years. In spite of that, Humanists UK statistics show that its celebrants already do more same-sex weddings without legal recognition each year than there are legally recognised same-sex religious marriages.

LGBT Humanists Coordinator Nick Baldwin commented:

‘It’s good to have these first ever results of how the LGBT community breaks down by religion or belief. That most LGBT people are non-religious is no surprise, given the history of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia by many religious groups.

‘There’s been a lot of focus over the years from national and local governments and others on the needs of religious LGBT people, particularly making the point that it’s possible to be both Christian and LGBT, or Muslim and LGBT, or of another faith and LGBT. That work is generally worthwhile and commendable. But the facts that most LGBT people are non-religious, and that non-religious LGBT people might have specific needs, are often overlooked. One example of that is with respect to legal recognition of humanist marriages. We hope the Census results will mean we are overlooked no longer.’

Further breakdown of the figures

The sexual orientation and gender identity questions were asked for those aged 16 and over. The 63% of lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) people who ticked ‘No religion’ comprise those who said their sexual orientation was something other than ‘Straight or Heterosexual’, i.e. those who ticked ‘Gay or Lesbian’, ‘Bisexual’, or ‘All other sexual orientations’. 26% of LGB people ticked ‘Christian’, 2% ‘Muslim’, and 6% other religions.

The Census religion question was asked of those all ages. Overall the England and Wales Census saw 37% ticking ‘No religion’, 46%, ‘Christian’, 6% ‘Muslim’, and 4% other religions.

Among those who said their gender identity is different from sex registered at birth (‘trans’), 35.7% ticked ‘No religion’, 36.2% ticked ‘Christian’, 15% ticked ‘Muslim’, and 10% ticked other religions.

Overall, 1.4 million people said they are LGB but not trans, while 149,000 said they are both LGB and also trans. 132,000 reported being trans but not LGB. The Office of National Statistics has not published the combined figures for gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion. But from the figures it has published, and given the relatively small size of the trans population, it is possible to say for certain that most LGBT people ticked ‘No religion’.

Biased Census

The result is still likely to underestimate the number of non-religious people. This is because the question is not only optional, but also uses leading wording (‘What is your religion?’) which has long been shown to inflate the number of people who do not believe in, practice, or consider themselves to belong to a religion choosing a religious box. The Office of National Statistics acknowledges this itself. The annual British Social Attitudes Survey, by contrast, asks a less leading question. While overall the Census saw 37% ticking ‘No religion’ and 46% ticking ‘Christian’, the Social Attitudes Survey found in 2020 that 53% of British adults belong to no religion, with only 37% Christians.

Separately a poll commissioned by Humanists UK in 2019 showed that 29% of British adults hold all the fundamental beliefs and values of humanists, hinting at the widespread shift in popular values, opinions, and identity the UK has undergone in the 21st century.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read the latest Census data for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read the latest Census results on the ONS website.

Read our statement from when the overall Census religion results were released, and from when the Census religion results were released by age.

LGBT Humanists is a section of Humanists UK. For over 40 years, LGBT Humanists has fought for equality for LGBT people. LGBT Humanists was founded in 1979 in response to the Gay News blasphemy trial, and we’ve blazed a trail since then arguing for equality by challenging religious opposition to LGBT rights. From equalising the age of consent and campaigning for same-sex marriage, to more recent campaigns to ban the horrific practice of ‘conversion therapy’, we have been resolute in calling for equal rights.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.