The Christian Institute, reacting to a questionable poll that appears to show the number of British people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual in the UK may be much lower than previously thought, has bemoaned that the UK should consider changing its marriage laws to incorporate same-sex couples when they are such a minority.
The Christian Institute think-tank said the ONS numbers meant the Prime Minister was revolutionising the marriage laws for the sake of new rights for a very small group. Spokesman Mike Judge said: “It is staggering that such a monumental change is being carried out on behalf of a tiny proportion of society.”
Hilariously poor though the argument is, it is also incredibly telling.
The very idea that because a population is smaller than previously thought, the majority has permission to disregard minority rights is so ripe with an overindulgence of privilege it should be tested for gout.
Gay people, a fraction of the population or not, have under Britain’s equality laws been given the same rights in nearly every other sphere as their straight counterparts. The Civil Partnership Act of 2004, though a positive step when it was introduced, falls short of Britain’s equality mandate precisely because it discriminates between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples in civil recognition and does so for no sound reason.
It is not only right then that the British government should amend the marriage law, it is vital to remain consistent with the UK’s commitment to equal treatment.
With regards to the Office of National Statistics’ Integrated Household Survey poll to which the Daily Mail and The Christian Institute refers, though they do so rather obliquely for reasons I will get to below, the poll found that only 1.5 per cent of men say they are gay, 0.7 per cent of women say they are lesbian and 0.4 per cent of people say they are bisexual.
The estimate used by the British government has for a good while now been that six per cent of the population falls under the gay, lesbian or bisexual bracket.
To be clear, the IHS poll covers only how people identify, not who they choose to have sex with or to whom they are actually attracted. Self-reporting is inaccurate but this weakness is not particular to this one poll. However, the ONS Integrated Household Survey has over recent years undergone a diminishing sample-size and therein has suffered a lack of statistical accuracy, a fact highlighted on the IHS website itself.
That the Christian Institute and the agenda toting Daily Mail did not reveal this or make this information readily accessible seems a (notable) shame.
Such a large discrepancy from other figures–though not wildly different from previous IHS figures–suggests that this most recent poll, which surveyed 350,000 from across the country, cannot be considered wholly accurate without further investigation, something further highlighted by the fact that these statistics are considered “experimental” by the ONS.
As such, revising up or down LGB population numbers based on this poll alone would be foolish–as is the Daily Mail reporting this as an ironclad number.
Regardless, the idea that one simply doesn’t have to bother about treating small groups of people equally, as the Christian Institute implies, betrays most starkly their flare for placing its own religious views above the civil rights of others, a lack of empathy that hardly matches the ideals Christians are supposed to strive toward.