Sexual orientation in Scotland 2017: summary of evidence base
Summary report of statistics and research on sexual orientation in Scotland.
6. Area-Based Deprivation and Geography
i. Summary of Scottish Survey Core Questions 2015 Data
This section provides an overview of area-based deprivation and geography for lesbian, gay, bisexual and other adults. It provides some key statistics from the SSCQ 2015 data and then a brief overview of the literature on sexual orientation, area based deprivation and geography.
Figure 13: Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation Quintiles by Sexual Orientation - Scotland 2015
Source: Scottish Surveys Core Questions 2015 and SIMD
The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation  ( SIMD) allows Scotland's data zones to be split into five quintiles, ordered by deprivation and each containing 20 per cent of the data zones. A data zone is a small area statistical geography, containing on average around 760 people. Figure 13 shows the proportion of LGBO people who lived in each of these quintiles, and shows that a greater proportion of the LGBO group lived in the most deprived quintile (27 per cent compared with 19 per cent of heterosexual adults). This difference was not explained by the differing ages of the groups, with 25 per cent of LGBO adults living in the most deprived quintile (compared with 19 per cent of heterosexual adults) when age is taken into account. Conversely, a smaller percentage of LGBO adults lived in the least deprived quintile (14 per cent compared with 20 per cent of heterosexual adults).
Figure 14: Urban /Rural Areas by Sexual Orientation - Scotland 2015
Source: Scottish Surveys Core Questions
Geographic areas in Scotland can also be classified into urban and rural categories, ranging from 'Large Urban Area' to 'Remote Rural'. Figure 14 shows that a higher proportion of LGBO adults lived in Large Urban areas (50 per cent compared with 35 per cent of Heterosexual adults). Heterosexual adults were more likely than the LGBO group to live in 'other urban areas' and 'accessible rural areas'.
ii. Summary of Literature on Sexual Orientation and Geography
A greater proportion of LGB people live in the most deprived areas in Scotland. Appropriate access to social housing services may be a factor as to why this is the case. For example, there is a perception of discrimination by LGB people in relation to social housing provision whereby 27 per cent of LGB people in Scotland expected to be discriminated against by housing officers (Stonewall Scotland, 2014 in Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 92). The subsequent reluctance of LGB people to disclose their sexual orientation may also mean that they are placed into communities which are not able to provide the services they require (Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 92).
However, the Scottish Social Attitudes ( SSA) Survey showed that those living in deprived areas in Scotland were no more likely to think that equal opportunities had gone too far for lesbian and gay people than those in the least deprived areas (Scottish Government, 2016: 62). This suggests that there are similar levels of acceptance of lesbian and gay people in both deprived and non-deprived areas.
A review of the UK Household Longitudinal Study found no statistically significant differences between LGB people and heterosexual people in the UK in 2011/12 in relation to being in poverty (Uhrig, 2015). However, the review did find that in 2011/12 bisexual people were more likely to be behind in paying bills (12.3 per cent of bisexual people were behind with some or all household bills, compared with 5.3 per cent of heterosexual people) and to claim income support (6.2 per cent of bisexual people claimed income support compared with 3.5 per cent of heterosexual people). Gay men were more likely to claim benefits than heterosexual men (4.7 per cent claimed income support compared to 2.2 per cent of heterosexual men) (Uhrig, 2015: 28-29).
Life in rural areas has been highlighted in some research as being particularly isolating for LGB people. For example, in Scotland, more LGBT respondents found living in rural areas to be bad or very bad (24 per cent) than living in urban areas (12 per cent) (Equality Network, 2015: 62). This was due to factors such as others' attitudes towards them (including verbal and physical attacks), poor service provision for LGBT people and a lack of LGBT communities with which to socialise. For LGBT young people in Scotland, 27.1 per cent living in rural areas described their location as a good place to live, compared with 67.7 per cent of those living in urban areas ( LGBT Youth, 2015a: 7). LGBT Youth (2015b: 9) also cited that 56.3 per cent of those living in rural areas in Scotland felt accepted in their own families, compared with 74.8 per cent of those in urban areas.
Respondents describe having to leave rural areas in Scotland either temporarily or permanently so 'I can be myself' (Equality Network, 2015). For example, LGBT Health and Wellbeing (2016: 28) highlight the lack of LGBT community in Fife and the resulting isolation that some LGBT people living in the area feel. 28 per cent of LGBT people in Fife have rare or no contact with other LGBT people in their area, with 61 per cent stating that this is due to the limited opportunities to meet up with people socially.
Community is important to the mental health of LGB people in the UK, with Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf (2016) citing a study where 74 per cent of LGB respondents reported that being part of an LGB community was good for their mental health (Formby, 2012, in Hudson-Sharp and Metcalf, 2016: 47). Better access to the community also helps to reduce social isolation. LGBT Youth (2015b: 8) also showed links between young LGBT people in Scotland feeling accepted in their community and levels of mental health (67 per cent with mental health problems for those who did not feel accepted by their community compared with 31 per cent with mental health problems for those that did). In 2011/12, gay men were more likely to live alone (37 per cent) than heterosexual men (14 per cent) (although lesbians were just as likely as heterosexual women to live by themselves) (Uhrig, 2015: 36), suggesting that access to social groups is important.
Accessing services from rural areas can also be challenging, with 59 per cent of LGBT respondents having to travel to other areas to access LGBT services. Addressing and challenging prejudice experienced by LGBT people in rural areas is argued to be necessary (Equality Network, 2015: 68).
Access to the community may be one reason why a higher proportion of LGBO people lived in urban areas. The latest figures showed that half of all LGBO people lived in large urban areas.
Email: Jon Hunter
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