Gay Muslim hopes new census questions will help create ‘true reflection’ of society

UK census gender sexuality

A gay Muslim hopes new questions on gender and sexuality in the 2021 UK census will help build a “true reflection” of society.

People across England, Wales and Northern Ireland filled in their census forms on Sunday (21 March), with many answering questions on gender identity and sexuality for the first time.

Khakan Quereshi, 51, told Sky News that he was excited when he received his 2021 census form and saw questions about his identity.

“I was really happy and excited to receive the census form this year because for the first time ever it mentioned sexual orientation, gender identity and religion,” Quereshi said.

“They’re all voluntary questions which you don’t need to answer but I was really proud to state that I’m gay and Muslim because that hopefully means there will be a true reflection of the society that we’re living in.

“And people who are not necessarily comfortable in coming out to the community can remain anonymous and can also have an independent form sent to them,” he added.

“That will give us a truer indication of what services we need so hopefully services and funding will match up with that.”

Quereshi said he hopes that more south Asians and people from ethnic minority backgrounds will fill in the 2021 census so they can get better resources.

“I’m hoping the impact of the census this year will make everlasting changes for the better.”

LGBT+ people praise census for asking questions on sexuality and gender

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) won praise from the LGBT+ community when it announced in October 2020 that it would ask questions about gender identity and sexuality for the first time in the 2021 census.

However, the process became embroiled in controversy when anti-trans pressure group Fair Play for Women successfully petitioned the High Court to change census guidance on the question “what is your sex?”

Guidance for the question initially said: “If you are considering how to answer, use the sex recorded on one of your legal documents such as a birth certificate, gender recognition certificate, or passport.”

Fair Play for Women argued that allowing people to answer with their sex according to legal documents such as passports would “redefine sex to include self-declared gender identity”. The High Court ultimately ordered the ONS to remove “such as” and “passport” from its guidance.