Why I’m glad the Census doesn’t ask me about my sexuality

I’ve seen a few people around the place wonder why the census does not ask about sexuality or transgender status. I, for one, am glad it does not. You’re probably all aware of the Census Campaign, encouraging people to tick the “No religion” in response to the optional question on religion.

Religion is, compared to sexuality or transgender status, usually (But not always) a less controversial topic. Some may recall the ONS study, “revealing” that only 1.5% of people are gay/bisexual. That was with some careful work done to ensure that others could not overhear the answers being given. Despite that, it came out with a surprisingly low figure with a significant number of unknowns/won’t says.

In comparison, the census is relatively public and can be seen by other members of the household. Yes, you could request an individual questionnaire but if someone really fears being out to their housemates that much, are they really going to risk revealing they have something to hide? Simple human nature – procrastination – will mean they probably can’t be bothered anyway. They’re just go for the easy option and tick heterosexual.

We can’t expect everyone to be an activist.

And that’s without even considering the problem of identity. How many people have had a same-sex relationship, but regard themselves as heterosexual because they are now in an opposite-sex marriage? Or started out “straight” before having a couple of gay relationships, so would tend to go for “gay” over “bisexual”. Or just don’t know yet.

We do not need another ONS-type result claiming there are fewer LGBT people in the UK than there really are. Officials would base their funding allocations on these numbers and there will be less available in the way of LGBT resources, in much the same way as the skewed religion result causes problems.

Inaccurate data is worse than no data.


    1. Tweeted about it earlier today, might blog about it tonight – feel free to link here if you like! I’ve written far more controversial things in the past. 🙂

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