Number of pansexuals on 2021 Census more than halved after ‘error’ spotted

The number of pansexual people who were said to be living in England and Wales as part of the 2021 Census has more than halved, after an error was spotted in the data. 

In a statistical release on Wednesday (1 November), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shared corrected numbers for those who identified as pansexual.  

The ONS stated some responses to the sexual orientation question – which was asked for the first time in the 2021 Census – which should have been coded to ‘all other sexual orientations’ but instead were incorrectly coded to ‘pansexual’. 

At the time of the original publication, the ONS said there were 112,400 people who said they were pansexual (0.23 per cent of the population) and 10,200 ticked they had an ‘other’ sexuality.

The correct figures now stand at 48,000 for the pansexual population and 74,600 for those who identify under ‘all other sexual orientations’. 

“Corrected figures were produced by using write-in responses to recode records initially coded to ‘pansexual’,” the author of the statistical release wrote, “The 6,700 records in this group created through the undercoverage adjustment did not have a write-in response and have been assumed to be correctly coded as ‘All other sexual orientations’.” 

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The update comes just a week after women and equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said looking into whether the number of trans people was “overestimated” in the Census due to “skewed methodology”. 

During oral questions for Badenoch’s department, the Tory minister told MPs she shares “concerns” with the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) about the numbers. 

She added that she has instructed officials to explore “whether the census got the number right”. 

Addressing MPs, she express concern that the reason for the alleged overinflation was due to people who have English as a second language not understanding the gender identity question. 

“We need to be very careful about the language, people don’t often understand what we mean when we use terms like ‘transgender’, ‘gender identity’, we’ve got to make sure they understand that,” she said. 

The ONS is meant to publish the results of its review by the end of the year.