UK Census considering new questions on sexuality and gender

UK Census considering new sexual orientation and gender identity questions

The next Census in the UK in 2021 might include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

A government paper, which was released yesterday, recommends that new questions be included so that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) can gather accurate data about the LGBT+ community.

The paper notes that there is a “clear and significant requirement for better information on sexual orientation.”

Including a question about sexual orientation would support work in policy development and service provision for the LGBT+ community, according to the report.

The ONS recommends that the question be voluntary and that it be asked to people aged over 16.

Sexual orientation is an ‘acceptable’ question

To come to its recommendation, the ONS conducted independent research which included asking a sample of the public if they thought asking about sexual orientation was acceptable.

The research also looked at how the question should be asked.

UK Census considering new sexual orientation and gender identity questions


An independent survey of 15,595 households had a 25 percent response rate, and showed that just 1 percent of people would stop completing the form if asked about sexual orientation.

70 percent of respondents over 16 said they thought it was acceptable to ask about sexual orientation.

A further 80 percent of respondents said they would answer accurately.

Asking about gender identity in the census

The report also recommends a new question on gender identity, and notes that there is “a requirement for information on the transgender population.”

It goes on to say that it is important to collect information about the number of trans and non-binary people in the UK so they can correctly allocate resources.

The report also notes that the 2011 Census left many trans and non-binary people out in the cold with the question on sex, which only included “male” and “female” options.

They note that there might be a difference between somebody’s registered biological sex and what gender they identify as. Therefore, the report recommends that the census keep the question on sex, but also ask a question about gender identity.

As with the proposed question on sexual orientation, the question on gender identity would be voluntary.

The ONS also conducted research to find out what was the best way to ask trans and non-binary people about their gender.

4,000 people responded to a survey on the matter, with just 1 percent of people reporting that they would stop completing the form altogether if asked about their gender identity.

Meanwhile, 80 percent of respondents in England and Wales said they thought it was acceptable to ask about gender identity.

The ONS’s research also indicated that the question on sex in 2011 was a barrier to trans and non-binary people, with many feeling they could not accurately complete the form as a result.