‘LGBTQ+ people count’: Excitement building ahead of landmark census

On Sunday, the 2021 Census will be undertaken by people across the United Kingdom – and it is set to be a landmark event for the LGBTQ+ community.

The census has occurred every decade since 1801 with the exception of 1941, and the 2021 edition will include two new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status, as well as clear and inclusive guidance on how to answer them.

Jeffrey Ingold, Head of Media at Stonewall called for all members of the LGBTQ+ population to not only fill in the census, but feel supported and comfortable in doing so.

He said: “For far too long, our community has been a hidden population. 

“As tough as times can be right now, it’s vital our communities find moments of joy and things to feel good about. 

“One of those things should be the 2021 Census – LGBTQ+ people count, so we should be counted.”

The data collected will help monitor inequalities and allow charities like Stonewall to effectively aid services with an accurate estimate of the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning community. 

The historic census comes at an important time for the community after COVID-19 derailed much of February’s planned celebrations surrounding LGBTQ+ History month. 

Ingold added: “The pandemic and lockdown have had a huge impact on all of us, but we know LGBTQ+ people have been hit particularly hard. 

“Many of us were not able to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in the way we were used to, but we know the many online events that happened acted as a lifeline for many LGBTQ+ people to once again feel connected to the community and our history.

“Our community is much more likely to experience poor mental health and lockdown has forced more LGBTQ+ people into unsafe home environments, where it’s harder to access support services.”

According to the 2018 National LGBT Survey, 94% of respondents did not report the most serious incidents of discrimination when it involved people they lived with – highlighting the unsafe home environments alluded to by Ingold. 

The upcoming census is a huge opportunity for such members of the community to have their voices heard, including the younger demographic – 16-24 year-olds were the most common group of respondents according to the 2018 Sexual Orientation Survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Sophie Sanders, of the Population Statistics Division at ONS, said: “More than two-thirds of the LGB population are single.

“This reflects the younger age of this community, the changing attitudes of the general population to marriage and the fact that legal unions have only recently been available for same-sex couples.”

While voluntary and for those aged 16 years and above, the new sexual orientation questions encourage younger members of the community to embrace their identity.

Nik Perring, the Writer-in-Residence, held a workshop during History month in accordance with both Sheffield and Lambeth Libraries to inspire young LGBTQ+ writers ahead of the Census. 

Mr. Perring said: “The most important thing in the whole world is who we are. 

“I’d welcome anything and everything that allowed everyone to be just that, and respected for it, in whichever way they chose to share it.

“The events put on for LGBTQ+ Month, including the On a Queer Theme competition, are enormously important in giving everyone, no matter who they are, a voice as well as an audience and an opportunity to be involved.”

Further information regarding the 2021 Census conducted by ONS can be found here

You can read more about the LGBTQ+ census questions here.

Featured image credit: Max Plieske

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