ABS ditches questions about sexuality in census despite need for data

The Australian Bureau of Statistics dumped questions about sexuality and gender from the next census because of concerns that there would be a public backlash over their inclusion.

The questions were dumped even though two government departments said the data was essential for planning for the future and effective delivery of services. The questions were one of eight potential questions that might have been included in the next census, but they were removed after Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar’s office intervened.

Documents provided to the senate earlier this week, as reported by The Guardian, show that despite extensive consultation with LGBTIQ+ groups, the questions were abandoned.

In the paperwork the ABS noted that the need for the questions was put forward by the Department of Social Services, Department of Health, National LGBTI Health Alliance and a number of state and local government agencies for a reliable evidence base” to inform programs and budgets. It was noted that there were no large scale studies in sexuality and gender and the ABS could fill this gap.

The paperwork noted that LGBTIQ+ people are often not represented in important mental health and suicide prevention strategies because of the lack of data, those living in regional areas were particular vulnerable to becoming invisible.

The Greens spokesperson on sexuality and gender Senator Janet Rice said the Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar needed to explain the actions of his office.

“This is what we know: the ABS told minister Sukkar the questions would be included in the field test. Then, without any obvious rhyme, reason or explanation, the ABS decided to remove those questions.”

“These questions are vital to ensuring that all Australians are counted. How is the government going to ever adequately address the needs of LGBTIQ+ communities if they refuse to count us in the census?” Rice said.

OIP Staff

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