New Research Shows Official UK Government Estimates of Gay Civil Partnerships ‘Vastly Underestimated’ – by a Factor of Ten

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Gay and lesbian couples head for the registry office as new research reveals latest Whitehall figures on the size of the UK gay population is at odds with current government estimates on UK Civil Partnership numbers.

The actual number of gay Civil Partnerships seems likely to be up to ten times higher than the current government estimates.

Gay and lesbian Britons in their thousands are expected to begin to march down the aisles of local registry offices from next week, when ceremonies commence under new UK Civil Partnership laws.

The British government has said they predict between 11,000 and 22,000 lesbian and gay couples to register their partnership over the next five years.

However a gay market specialist agency relied upon earlier this year by Barclays Bank to measure gay lifestyle, consumer patterns, and civil partnership intentions in the UK believes that currently published official government statistics “vastly underestimate” the numbers who will actually register their relationships under the new laws.

According to Ian Johnson, a director at Out Now Consulting – a gay and lesbian specialist marketing agency, with 15 years experience in the field – new findings from the latest research on UK gays and lesbians show that the official government estimates are unrealistic. He says that the current UK government figures are out of sync with both Out Now's latest UK gay market research and also with newly released Whitehall figures on the total number of UK gays and lesbians.

Out Now have just released new findings from a detailed analysis of the lifestyles of the readers of the highest circulation UK lesbian and gay magazines.

Results from the 2005 Out Now Diva and Gay Times Readers Surveys – the most comprehensive lesbian and gay research study carried out in the UK to date – show that a much higher number of UK lesbian and gay couples intend to register their Civil Partnerships than the officially released government estimates would imply.

Based on this new research, up to 274,000 couples say they intend to enter Civil Partnerships over coming years - Britain’s new form of gay civil ‘marriage’.

This is a figure far higher than government estimates of as few as 11,000 and a maximum of just 22,000 registrations by 2010.

“The government estimates about Civil Partnership numbers just don’t seem to add up,” Johnson said.

“The current figures of between 11,000 and 22,000 registrations appear to be far too low. More than 1,000 UK couples applied for registration in the first week. To suggest that only a few thousand are expected to register each year after that seems to vastly underestimate the numbers revealed in Out Now's research,” Johnson said.

“The actual number of gay Civil Partnerships seems likely to be up to ten times higher than the current government estimates.”

For years Out Now has used the figure of six percent to measure the total percentage of gays and lesbians in society.

This week it was reported that official Whitehall estimates now also agree with this six percent figure, which means Whitehall now agrees with Out Now that there are just under 3 million lesbian and gay adults in the UK.

“Now that Whitehall agrees with us that six percent of people in the UK are gay or lesbian, it becomes quite unrealistic to believe, as the UK government currently says that it does, that out of this group of nearly three million people in the UK, no more than 22,000 couples will be in Civil Partnerships by 2010,” Johnson said. “The government’s estimates seem not only to be very low, they seem, in fact, to us to be quite wrong.”

“Whitehall this week accepts that our figure of six percent of British adults being lesbian or gay is correct,” Johnson said. “That means there are 2.9 million lesbians and gay men in the UK. These new research findings from the 2005 Out Now Diva and Gay Times Readers Surveys reveal that up to 274,000 registrations can be expected to take place," Johnson said. “Even if only half these people actually do so in the next five years, the research suggests that we should still expect to see Civil Partnership registrations being ten times higher than the currently accepted government estimates”.

Officially released government estimates were initially much higher, but were revised downwards around the time of the Queen's Speech announcing the new laws.

“It is very impressive that the UK has taken this step, but we do feel that wrongly estimating its effects does no-one any good in the long term. This research, which is the most up-to-date information available about British gay and lesbian lifestyles, including partnership intentions, suggests very strongly that far more gays and lesbians plan to say ‘I do’ than the British government is suggesting,” Johnson said.

Notes to editors:

Official UK government estimates: “The Government expects between 11,000 and 22,000 people to be in a civil partnership by 2010.” Source: UK government ‘Women and Equality Unit’ website, 12 December 2005.

Official Dutch statistics (Source: Statistics Netherlands, CBS) released in November 2005 show that in the four years since legalised gay marriage commenced there in 2001 (civil partnerships commenced three years earlier), around a quarter [22%] of recorded lesbian and gay couples are either in registered partnerships or married.

Were a similar trend to occur in the UK that would lead to an expected total of (22% of all 504,000 UK lesbian couples and 22% of all 360,000 gay male couples, that is, 22% of all 864,000 gay and lesbian UK couples) just under 200,000 [190,080] couples becoming civil partners in the UK during the next four to seven years.

Diva magazine is the leading European media product for lesbian women and Gay Times is the UK and Europe’s largest publication for gay men.

Of the readers surveyed in relationships the proportion who intend to register their relationship is as follows:-

70% of Diva readers are currently in a relationship and 29% are single. 48% of the Gay Times sample were single, 50% were in a relationship.

Of the female couples 43% preferred the option of registering their Civil Partnership to full marriage (38%), whereas with Gay Times 51% preferred Civil Partnership to full marriage (29%).

54% of the Diva sample intend to register their partnership from December 2005 onwards, compared to 39% of the Gay Times sample. 71% of the lesbian couples intend to take a honeymoon afterwards, compared to 57% for gay male couples.

Publication of this information must be credited as the "Out Now Consulting 2005 Gay Times and Diva Reader Surveys", for copyright reasons.

The report by Out Now Consulting, was undertaken following independent research with more than 1,000 readers of Diva and Gay Times magazines between March and September 2005.

Sample size is 1118 respondents.

Gay Times and Diva (published by Millivres Prowler Ltd.) are Europe's best selling gay and lesbian glossy news stand magazines.

Established in 1992, Out Now Consulting is a leading source for gay marketing knowledge and is a global gay market agency relied upon by brands targeting lesbian and gay customers. Services include Training, Advertising, Public relations, Market research and Strategy development.

Out Now clients include Barclays Bank, IBM, Toyota, German National Tourist Office, Qantas Airways, British Tourist Authority, Lufthansa, South African Tourism and Citibank.

For further information please contact:

Ian Johnson, Director, Out Now Consulting

UK mobile: +44-7906 553 990

BE landline: +32-2-514 6443

BE mobile: +32-4737 60886


Kim Watson, Head of Media, Millivres Prowler Ltd.

UK landline: +44-20-7424 7460


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