New ABS guidelines welcomed but LGBTIQ+ still absent from Census

National LGBTIQ+ advocates have welcomed the new guidelines from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) regarding data collection on sex, gender, sexual orientation and variations of sex characteristics.

Formerly named the Sex and Gender Standard, the new document expands the scope to include Sex, Gender, Variation of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables.

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia participated as an active member of the ABS Sex, Sex Characteristics, Gender and Sexual Orientation Reference Group, working to deliver advice on updating the standards from 2016.

“We hold our partnership with the ABS in very high regard,” LGBTIQ+ Health Australia CEO Nicky Bath said.

“The development of these variables is so incredibly important to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Currently the data on the health and wellbeing of our communities has significant gaps which is hindering Government responses and reducing the benefits we can gain from being included in for example Minimum Data Sets and Coroners data.”

“The Standard gives us the means to work with health and wellbeing sector data sets and ensure that the questions to identify LGBTIQ+ communities in the data are asked consistently and appropriately.”

“It is essential that we work together quickly and in a focused way to promote and use the variables in all government surveys, minimum data sets, suicide death data records, and research surveys, so that in 2026 we can complete that data cycle and have LGBTIQ+ people counted in that iteration of the national Census,” Bath concluded.

National LGBTIQ+ advocacy group just.equal have also welcomed the update, but highlight the lack of questions that target the experiences of people of diverse sexuality and gender, as well as intersex folk after alleged intervention from government MP Michael Sukkar.

“LGBTIQ+ Health Australia is to be applauded for leading the push to gather better, official demographic data on LGBTIQ+ people,” just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said.

“Better data will be the basis for planning and funding better health and social services for LGBTIQ+ Australians.”

“It is aggrieving that the current Federal Government has not approved the ABS asking Census questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and variations of sex characteristics.”

“These questions are approved for the New Zealand Census and the incoming U.S. administration has promised they will be asked in that country as well.”

“We are hopeful the new ABS guidelines will be an important step in the same direction.”

OIP Staff

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