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Census 2021
February 21, 2021
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The upcoming 2021 Censuses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will for the first time include two new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status.

The inclusion of these questions represents a rare and valuable opportunity for our communities to be recognised and to ensure that data is available to support the sustainability of the LGBT+ sector.

About the Census

The census is coming. By taking part, you can help inform decisions on services that shape your community, such as healthcare, education and transport.

The census is a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It gives us a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales – the most detailed information we have about our society.

It’s important that you fill in your census questionnaire. Without the information you share, it’d be more difficult to understand your community’s needs and to plan and fund public services.

In one way or another, your information touches the lives of every single person living in England and Wales, whether it’s through using census information to plan new schools, doctors’ surgeries or bike lanes.

Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census. Do not worry, government officials dealing with applications you’ve made or payments or services you receive cannot see it.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) runs the census in England and Wales and is independent from government. Your details are protected by law and information published is always anonymous.

Census Day is Sunday 21 March 2021. You can fill yours in online as soon as you get your access code in the post. If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let the ONS know.

Everyone should have the support they need to fill in the census. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, there’s a wide range of support services available.

These include a contact centre that can give you help over the phone and guidance in a range of languages and accessible formats, including paper questionnaires and large print.

If you need help or have any questions, visit

New – Voluntary questions on Sexual orientation and gender identity

Census 2021 asks voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

This is to give us more accurate information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. It will help organisations combat any inequalities these groups face and show where services are needed.

The ONS will only ask people aged 16 years and over these voluntary questions.

If you do not feel comfortable identifying on the same form as the rest of your household, you can request an individual census questionnaire and answer separately. Answers submitted on individual questionnaires will override answers given on the household survey meaning you can correctly identify yourself without outing yourself to your household if you wish.

What do these new questions mean for Trans and Non-Binary people?

People will be required to tick female or male in response to the question “what is your sex?” with a note alerting them to a later question on gender identity. That will ask: “Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?” Those responding “no” will be asked to specify their gender identity. When ticking either male or female you do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate to tick a different sex to that which was assigned at birth, so long as you have ID that matches the sex you pick, such as a passport or drivers license.

Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive, Stonewall (she/her) said: ‘The 2021 Census will be a historic moment for LGBT+ communities. For the first time, the Census includes two new voluntary questions on sexual orientation and trans status, as well as clear and inclusive guidance on how to answer the Census sex question. This will give us an accurate picture of the size and make-up of the LGBT+ population in Britain.

‘For far too long, our community has been a hidden population. Collecting this vital data will ensure researchers, policymakers, service providers and community organisations are able to understand the needs of LGBT+ people and develop tailored services to help us be treated fairly and achieve our potential. Now we need to make sure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in England and Wales feel confident and supported to fill in the Census on 21 March.’

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