LGBTQ+ communities to be recognised in Census 2021

Graham Robson February 21, 2021

For the first time, local-level information on the proportion of the population that is  LGBTQ+ will be gathered in the next census, which takes place on March 21 with results available in 2022.

Run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the census is the once-in-a-decade survey that gives the most accurate estimate of all people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, except for 1941.

Following discussions, testing and research with the public, charities and government bodies, the census will ask two new questions relevant to LGBTQ+ communities on gender identity and sexual orientation. As with all census questions, no personal information is shared, data is anonymised before aggregated statistics are used to shape policies and services.

These questions will give a better understanding of LGBTQ+ populations which will help organisations to combat any inequalities these groups may face and show where services are needed.

The voluntary questions will be asked of those aged 16 years and over, so no-one will be forced to answer if they do not want to. People can also request an individual census questionnaire and give their answers separately to their current household if they wish to.

Iain Bell, deputy national statistician at the ONS, said: “While there are estimates of sexual orientation at a national and regional level, it is not possible to produce robust estimates for all local authorities – that’s what census data will give.

“And there is no robust data available on gender identity at all. These data are needed by local authorities and service providers to inform the provision of services. The sexual orientation and gender identity questions will be voluntary for people aged 16 and over.

“Without robust data on the size of the LGBTQ+ population at a national and local level, decision-makers are operating in a vacuum, unaware of the extent and nature of disadvantage which LGBTQ+ people may be experiencing in terms of health, educational outcomes, employment and housing.”

ONS stresses it will never share personal details, and no-one, including government bodies, will be able to identify individuals in census data. Personal census records will be kept secure for 100 years and only then can future generations view them.

The census 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.

Paper questionnaires will also be available on request, along with language support via a free phone contact centre. For more information, CLICK HERE