According to the 2021 Census, Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t exist

Well, okay then… The 2021 Census did not acknowledge Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community.

The 2021 Census is underway, asking all Australians to share information about themselves to better our society in the long run.

However, while the questionnaire did include a “non-binary sex” option when asking about someone’s sex, specific questions relating to gender identity and sexual orientation were left off completely.

Photo: Alan Porritt/AAP

Last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed that questions relating to queer identities were not included.

In papers given to the Senate: “the ABS noted the potential question[s] on sexual orientation met the ‘no alternative data source’ criterion to a high extent.”

While they did highlight the importance of data covering “the health needs” of non-binary people and other diverse individuals, ultimately, “there was a ‘limited case’” for including it on the Census.

At the same time, the ABS concluded that no method would allow them to gather information on people’s sexualities accurately.

After analysing the surveys conducted by other groups on the LGBTQIA+ community, the ABS found that the results were “‘inconsistent’, ‘narrow in scope’ or surveyed only a small segment of the population”.

The move received much backlash from the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

Sam Klintworth, the national director of Amnesty International Australia (an organisation dedicated to fighting for human rights), condemned the lack of representation in a letter addressed to the Minister for Housing, and Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar.

“I … find it astounding that the Government has not included questions about sexual orientation and gender identity,” the letter reads.

“As a result of this decision, the Government cannot understand the needs of LGBTQIA+ people, and the community will miss out on vital services, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“This is a matter of serious concern, as it will result in a service gap that constitutes discrimination of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

LGBTQI+ Health Australia, an organisation at the forefront of providing health-related services that improve the overall medical experience for LGBTQIA+ Australians, shared a similar sentiment towards the end of last year.

“[We are] frustrated that next year’s Census will not include questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status, despite a national consensus for this data to be collected,” their website reads.

As of today, an estimated 2,388,009 Census forms have been completed and sent to the ABS. New South Wales leads the response with 806,640 forms (paper and online) having already been submitted.

Victoria is second with 672,557 forms, and Queensland is third with 419,415. The results are expected to be released from June 2022 onwards.