A BIGGER proportion of lesbian, gay and bisexual Scots were born outside the country than straight people, statistics show.

According to data collected by Scotland’s chief statistician, only 69 per cent of people who identify themselves as LGB were born in Scotland, with 31 per cent moving here from elsewhere.

In contrast, 81 per cent who identified themselves as heterosexual in official surveys were Scottish-born, with just 19 per cent coming here from other countries.

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Meanwhile, more than half of those who said they were “lesbian, gay, bisexual or other” were under 35 years old.

The results, which do not explicitly cover transgender or inter-sex identities, are taken from three major surveys and were released by the Scottish Government yesterday.

They come after the 2015 Rainbow Europe Index, compiled by international human rights group ILGA-Europe, named Scotland as the best country in the continent for LGBTI legal equality.

Yesterday Tim Hopkins of the Edinburgh-based Equality Network charity, said the country’s reputation as a welcoming place for LGBTI people may go some way to explain the results. However, he cautioned that it may be due to other factors, including a reluctance among older people to reveal their sexuality.

He told The National: “Younger people are more likely to identify as LGB in surveys.

“My feeling is that probably it is easier for younger people do to it – they haven’t lived through as much of the discrimination as older people have. It is only 35 years since sex between men was an offence in Scotland. Equality has come only recently.

“Twenty or 30 years ago people may well have gone down to London, as Jimmy Somerville did and as his song [Smalltown Boy] describes. It’s a bit surprising that the survey seems to indicate that 31 per cent of the people who identify as LGB have moved to Scotland from outside.

“But Scotland has an increasing reputation as being a welcoming place. Another explanation may be that people who have moved here from another country may be more willing to identify as LGB.”

Hopkins, 58, moved to Scotland from England in 1985 for work and has never considered leaving. He said: “I didn’t even know when I moved to Scotland whether sex between men was legal. When I got here I discovered it was and found the gay scene.

“In Edinburgh there were a lot of the things that would have been available in London – the lesbian and gay bookshop Lavender Menace, a number of bars and a gay centre in Broughton Street.

“I began campaigning in 1987 and one of the reasons I didn’t ever consider moving away from Scotland was it was clear that there was effective campaigning going on. The fact that real change was happening was something that made me think I didn’t want to leave. Scotland was moving visibly forwards.”

Paul Nadja, 36, came to Scotland in 2004 at the age of 24 and is now preparing to marry fiancé Ian Johnstone next year.

Originally from Poland, he said prejudice at home meant he “would not dream” about revealing his sexuality there, adding: “I have not known one person throughout my entire life in Poland who was gay because everyone lived behind a closed door. People were just scared.

“When I came here and noticed how relaxed the rules are, how friendly people are towards homosexuals, that was enlightenment to me. I came out two years after and I have never, ever experienced any sort of discrimination. It’s a big factor for people coming here.”

Meanwhile, partner Johnstone warns homophobia still clings on “in the core estates” in Scotland and that the country “isn’t as liberal as you would want to say”.

However, he said an increasingly tolerant culture has led many in the LGB community to shake off a “gay identity”.

He said: “A lot of people don’t want the badge. The label ‘gay’ just disappears.”

Tackling the issue, the report states that the true picture of Scotland’s LGB population is likely to be under-reported, stating: “Asking about sexual orientation/identity is a new development in national surveys and such questions can be seen as intrusive and personal.

“There is still significant prejudice and discrimination against LGB people in society.

“In a context where some LGB people will not have told friends and family about their sexual identity, there is a real question about whether LGB people generally would want to be open with an interviewer.

“The default option for being uncertain about one’s sexual orientation may be to respond ‘straight/heterosexual’ rather than ‘don’t know/not sure’.”