Stats NZ survey finds 4.2 percent of population is LGBT+ with 0.8 percent transgender

For the first time, we have a decent idea of the size of New Zealand's Rainbow community.

One in 20 adults in New Zealand identify as LGBT+, which is 4.2 percent of our adult population, according to Stats NZ's annual Household Economic Survey.

The research found that 0.8 percent of New Zealanders identify as transgender or non-binary and 3.7 percent reported a sexual identity other than heterosexual. 

However, those numbers are believed to be lower than the reality.

"There are similar kinds of research projects in the US that show 1 in 3 of Gen Z identify as LGBT so yeah whilst it's definitely a huge step forward, I can definitely imagine it would be bigger," says Pooja Subramanian, executive director of RainbowYOUTH

"We were a little surprised at the 1 in 20 number, I think we had thought it was closer to 1 in 10, around that 10 per cent mark," adds Max Tweedie, executive director of Auckland Pride.

The Stats NZ survey included more than 31,000 people aged 18 and over. It's the first time it collected inclusive and detailed data about sexual identity and gender.

Aotearoa's LGBT+ population is approximately 160,600 people

The number of New Zealanders identifying as LGBT+ is made up predominantly of transgender and cisgender women (53.5 percent), followed by 38.8 percent transgender and cisgender men, and 7.6 percent non-binary people, the report found.

Stats NZ also found the LGBT+ population tended to be younger than the non-LGBT+ population, with 54.2 percent under the age of 35 years. 

New Zealand's transgender and non-binary population that account for 0.8 percent of the population according the survey is made up of: 

  • 28.3 percent transgender men
  • 33.2 percent transgender women
  • 38.5 percent non-binary people (people who have reported another gender).

If people indicated another gender they were able to specify further in a text response option, which resulted in people identifying as agender, gender fluid, genderqueer and takatāpui.

The survey's inclusivity will also be part of the next official census and while that progress is encouraging, there were also some worrying stats uncovered in the Household Economic Survey. 

The LGBT+ community is more likely to experience anxiety and depression and has a lower personal disposable income than the non-LGBT+ population. 

"Those are things that we've heard on the ground and obviously this is one of those things that now we've got the data, we can take the data to the Government and say 'right, well what are you doing in these areas'," says Tweedie. 

In 2022 Auckland Pride will mark its 50 year anniversary. Visible, inclusive events such as Pride month are said to be helpful in helping everyone feel accurately represented and counted.