Jeanene Williams is disappointed that the 2021 census did not include questions about sexuality and gender. Source: Delivered
While the most recent census was the first in Australia where respondents could select anything other than male or female as their gender by specifying ‘non-binary’ as the third option, there were no questions about how people identify.
The ABS said in 2019 that it made explicit recommendations to the then federal government on the topics “with the strongest arguments for inclusion in the 2021 census”, but continued: “the final selection of topics for inclusion in the 2021 census is a decision for the government”.
“It certainly means things to people, and it also means things to businesses and other different aspects of society to know this information.”
Participants in the 2021 Sydney Mardi Gras Parade holding a sign that reads ‘Queer South Asians’. The 2021 census asked people in Australia where they were born and what languages they speak, but not about their gender or sexuality. Source: MONKEY † Joel Carrett
For Joe Ball, a better understanding of the collapse of the LGBTIQ+ community could help the nonprofit he leads better respond to community needs. Mr Ball is the Chief Executive Officer of St Kilda-based Switchboard, an organization that provides support services to LGBTIQ+ communities.
“We need evidence-based research and data to show us how to deliver the services we provide. And the Census represents a very important function, or it could be a very important function to create a baseline data set on which all studies and investigations can be based.”
Switchboard CEO Joe Ball says not asking about sexuality and gender means LGBTIQ+ communities can be left out of government response. Source: Delivered
Mr Ball said that as society moves forward, so should the way we analyze and measure society.
Things have come a long way since the dark days of the criminalization of our sexuality, sex and gender, so the Census needs to match that.
Joe Ball, Switchboard CEO and transgender man
Ball suggested the ABS develop a strategy for collecting LGBTIQ+ data, as he understands, with other segments of society deemed “hard to reach,” such as people who are homeless.
Non-binary gender data not disclosed
Those who checked non-binary were able to include more information in an additional text box. Mr Ball said further thought needed to be given to the way the question was presented.
People make the LGBTQIA+ Progress Flag on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. Source: MONKEY † Bianca De Marchic
“The second part of that question [non-binary and more details] would have fallen into that ‘hard-to-reach population’ because you had to raise the literacy of the question of how people would answer this question, including those from non-English speaking backgrounds, and they weren’t campaigning to make people aware of that question,” he said. .
“For example, the way the questions are done, you have one household form and you fill in that form. There may have been people who didn’t feel like they could write it on their form due to a lack of acceptance in their household or personal security for themselves.
australiabusinessblog contacted the ABS about not including questions about sexuality and gender in the Census, but received no response.
“In its advice to the government on these topics, the ABS noted that stakeholders are interested in collecting the data, as well as limitations in collecting this information.”