‘In the dark’: Census slammed for snubbing LGBTIQ+ Australians

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As the first data from the 2021 Census is released, peak body LGBTIQ+ Health Australia has warned the country still remains “in the dark” on its LGBTIQ+ communities.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts the Census, surveying every Australian and household, every five years. The ABS today published the first round of the 2021 Census data.

The Census’ national population data is vital for governments to allocate funding for services and also to inform advocacy groups’ lobbying for the funding.

But Australia’s Census doesn’t include questions about sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex Australians.

In recent years, some 140 peak bodies, health experts, and organisations pleaded for the Census to include those specific questions.

But last year, the 2021 Census went ahead without them. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia CEO Nicky Bath said the data is desperately needed.

“Had appropriate questions been included in the 2021 Census, today we’d have access to a whole range of data that we urgently need to better respond to the health disparities that LGBTIQ+ people live with,” she said.

Australia’s Census must follow other countries’ lead

For the first time, the 2021 Census data includes information on Australians’ long-term health conditions, including mental health.

However Bath said if LGBTIQ+ variables were included, today “we’d have access to much needed data to assist with planning and where to focus investment in mental health services”.

In 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics finalised a standard set of questions on sexual orientation, sex, gender, and sex characteristics.

On Tuesday, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia called on the federal government to include those questions in the next Census in 2026.

“Other countries are moving to include LGBTIQ+ people in their Census. They recognise this information is urgently needed and is appropriate to ask,” Nicky Bath said.

“Australia must follow these examples of leadership and include LGBTIQ+ people in 2026.”

‘The ABS and former government failed to confront reality’

Earlier, in 2019, Census questions on sexuality and gender were controversially dropped from the final list for 2021.

Equality Australia’s Anna Brown said the former Morrison Government and ABS “failed to confront the reality of modern Australia”.

“Once again, lesbian, gay, bi+, transgender, intersex and queer people are not properly represented in the census data,” she said.

“This is because the ABS and the minister responsible at the time failed to ensure much-needed questions about sexual orientation, gender identity or variations in sex characteristics were asked or asked properly.

“Young people from the LGBTIQ+ community are approximately five times more likely to have attempted suicide than the general population. Almost one in every two children who are trans have attempted suicide.

“The problem is, we just don’t know in which parts of Australia all these people live. That is something that a nationwide census could have told us.

“In 2026, we shouldn’t have to get married to be counted properly, or be asked ill-fitting questions about who we are or our families.”

Former government ‘made their choice’

Deputy Australian Statistician Teresa Dickinson said last August a sexual orientation question was on an ABS shortlist of eight new questions explored.

“We investigated it in quite some detail,” Dickinson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“And in the end, the federal government makes the decisions on what goes onto the census, rather than the ABS.

“The government was appraised of the pros and cons of putting those questions on, and they made their choice.”

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Julian
    4 July 2022

    . 2 million to the Hillsong church. No money for LGBT Taxpayers community funding. OUTRAGE

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