ABS sorry to queer Australians hurt by exclusion from Census

Newscastle parent April Long is suing the Australian Bureau of Statistics for excluding their family from the Census
Image: April Long/Supplied

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has issued a “statement of regret” acknowledging hurt to members of the LGBTIQ+ community left “invisible” in the 2021 Census, in a settlement of a human rights complaint.

The ABS conducts the Census, surveying every household, in Australia every five years. But there are no Census questions about sexuality or gender identity, and others failed to accommodate diverse families.

Last September, Newcastle parent April Long (pictured above), who’s non-binary, and the LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia filed a formal complaint.

They alleged former Morrison government minister Michael Sukkar and the ABS unlawfully discriminated against the family and other queer Australians by failing to properly count them in 2021.

April Long said the Census “left my family uncounted, my partner and I excluded as parents, and our son’s family invisible.”

Equality Australia has confirmed the complaint was privately conciliated last week.

The ABS has now put out a public statement, acknowledging the omission of the questions and the framing of others left some LGBTIQ+ people feeling invisible, demeaned and discriminated against.

“Some members of the LGBTIQ+ community experienced hurt, stress, anguish and other negative reactions to some Census questions,” it read.

“The ABS recognises the importance of these issues and regrets any distress experienced by members of the LGBTIQ+ community when responding to the 2021 Census and earlier Censuses.”

ABS considering gender and sexuality questions

In September 2022, the ABS admitted to botching a question relating to people identifying as non-binary in 2021. It failed to capture meaningful data and the ABS vowed to do better in 2026.

In July the ABS said it was shortlisting questions on gender and sexual identity for testing ahead of the 2026 Census.

Then, the ABS will make a recommendation to the Federal Government for a final decision on the topics.

This week, the ABS also pledged to establish an LGBTIQ+ expert advisory committee for Census 2026 to give guidance and input.

Census ‘has never included the full story of LGBTIQ+ Australia’

Equality Australia welcomed the ABS’ statement and said the commitments could lead to change in 2026.

​“The Census has told the national story of our changing community since 1911. But it has never included the full story of LGBTIQ+ Australia,” Equality Australia’s legal director Ghassan Kassisieh said.

“The fact is we still don’t know how many LGBTIQ+ people there are in Australia or where they live.”

“Some of us are couples but we are not just couples. Some of us are parents but we’re not all mothers and fathers. Not all of us have a straightforward relationship with the sex ascribed to us at birth.

“We hope this result will build the case for the Albanese government and the ABS to right the wrongs of the past and ensure that LGBTIQ+ people in Australia are properly counted in 2026.

“The Federal Government has an opportunity to reflect the real diversity of the Australian community in 2026 and gather crucial information about the kinds of services all our communities need.”

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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