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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people

There is little population information based on sexual orientation or gender identity in New Zealand. Reliable data on the size of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender populations in relation to the total population is not available.

Some information about same-sex couples who share a residence has been collected in censuses since 1996. The 2006 Census recorded just over 12,300 adults living with a partner of the same sex, making up 0.7 per cent of all adults living in couples. This is an increase from the 10,000 recorded in the 2001 Census when they made up 0.6 per cent of all couples and the 6,500 recorded in the 1996 Census when they made up 0.4 per cent of all couples. However, it is difficult to know whether the change in numbers represents a real increase in the number of same-sex couples living together, or a greater willingness on their part to report living arrangements and partnership status, or both. According to Statistics New Zealand, it is likely that the figures understate the actual number of same-sex couples because of the inconsistent way people responded to the census question. Moreover, these statistics refer only to same-sex partners who live together. They do not measure sexual orientation or reflect the proportion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the population.

Some information on sexual orientation is available from the national youth health and wellbeing survey conducted in 2007. The 9,000 secondary school students in the survey were aged between 12 and 18 years. Most students (92 per cent) reported being exclusively attracted to the opposite sex, while 4 per cent reported being attracted to the same sex or both sexes. The remaining 4 per cent were attracted to neither sex or were not sure of their sexual orientation. These proportions did not change markedly between the 2001 and 2007 surveys.16

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