The 2021 census will be a “historic moment” in queer history
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS, IMAGE VIA ISTOCK
For the first time ever, the 2021 UK census will recognise LGBTQI communities by asking two new voluntary questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Run by the Office For National Statistics (ONS) – the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics – the census allows us insight into the most accurate estimate of the population and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, except for the year 1941.
The last census took place in March 2011 and included 56 questions relating to age, relationship status, national identity, ethnic group, educational qualifications, job titles and health status.
Through asking specific LGBTQI-focused questions, it will allow for a better understanding of the LGBTQI population in the UK – helping organisations to tackle the inequalities faced, meet the needs of the community and determine a clear path to drive change.
The new questions will be voluntary, so nobody will be forced to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity if they don’t wish to. People will also be able to request an individual census questionnaire if they’d prefer to give their answers separately from other members of their household.
Stonewall CEO, Nancy Kelley has welcomed the changes to the census in a statement online: “The 2021 Census will be a historic moment for LGBT+ communities. For the first time, the Census includes two new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status, as well as clear and inclusive guidance on how to answer the Census sex question. This will give us an accurate picture of the size and make-up of the LGBT+ population in Britain.
“For far too long, our community has been a hidden population. Collecting this vital data will ensure researchers, policymakers, service providers and community organisations are able to understand the needs of LGBT+ people and develop tailored services to help us be treated fairly and achieve our potential. Now we need to make sure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in England and Wales feel confident and supported to fill in the Census on 21 March.”
Census Day is 21 March and the results will be made available in 2022. It will be run mostly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code in March, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on computers, tablets, phones or laptops.
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