LGBT+ advocates want sexual orientation included in Irish Census 2021

The Department of Justice has said a question on sexual orientation will be included in the next National Households Survey which will inform future Census questions.

Census 2021

LGBT+ advocates and groups have called on the Government to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the Census 2021 to “provide an honest view of Irish society” and correct a “historic wrong”.

A public consultation was held in 2017 to decide what to include on the Census 2021 survey.

The final draft was signed off earlier this year and includes questions around childcare, household smoke alarms, and access to the internet.

During the public consultation, the matter of a possible sexual orientation question was raised, a question which appears on the national Census of other European countries.

The current Census includes one question about gender, which asks ‘what is your sex?’ with the only options being ‘male’ or ‘female’.

The Central Statistics Office decided that a question on the sexual orientation will not appear on the Census.

They added that they will reconsider the question again ahead of the 2026 Census.

TheJournal.ie has seen under a Freedom of Information request submissions made by the public calling for a sexual orientation question to be added.

On submission said it would be an “invaluable resource” and would act as a way of “rectifying” past treatment of Ireland’s LGBT+ community:

“I was disappointed that no attempt was made to determine the sexual orientation of respondents to the 2016 Census,” they said.

“The LGBTQ community continues to deal with issues relating to invisibility and erasure from the public record and this information would contribute significantly to rectifying the historic wrong.”

BeLonG To and TENI also made submissions for the inclusion of more options under the heading of gender identity including non-binary and BeLonG To also called for the inclusion of a question on sexual orientation with options including gay, straight, queer or other.

Inclusion Ireland, who advocate for those living with disabilities, said that there would be a benefit in obtaining data on sexual orientation as there is a lack of data for this cross-section of society.

“People with disabilities who identify as LGBTQI+ may experience discrimination because of their disability, their sexual or gender identity, or other parts of their identity,” it said.

“The availability of data would help public bodies to ensure that they are complying with the Public Sector Duty and help civil society to monitor this and hold the public sector to account.”

Some Government departments have supported the calls for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs said: “eight of the nine grounds for discrimination are covered by the existing Census form and sexual orientation is the only ground that is not”.

“Data on gender and sexual identity at a small area level may be useful for planning for sexual health resources.

“We understand that the UK’s ONS are considering including a sexual and gender identity question in the 2021 Census of England and Wales. The ONS are currently conducting further research on same.”

The Department of Justice joined calls for the inclusion of a question on sexual orientation.

A Census spokesperson said it is carrying out a trial involving a question on sexual orientation in the Quarterly National Household Survey, and data collected will inform discussions on the issue for future Census surveys.

“The aim is to see how it goes with other CSO surveys with a view to maybe having a question like this in future,” they said.

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