LGBT Foundation cautiously welcomes the first snapshot of LGBTQ+ identities in the Census, with an understanding that this data remains incomplete, and that the true picture of LGBTQ+ people will become clearer in years to come.
To achieve a fair and equal society, we must understand the lived experience of LGBTQ+ communities. Census data is just one part of that – it constitutes a vital step in ensuring our communities can share their experiences and identities at a national level.
This is the first Census which has asked people about their gender identity, sexual orientation and trans identity. It is an exciting and ground-breaking moment that gives a baseline understanding of LGBTQ+ experiences in the UK. Through asking about these characteristics, diversity and difference is recognised and normalised. This promotes conversations and education on LGBTQ+ people which are necessary for recording a more accurate representation of our communities.
We are proud to advocate for the needs of at least 1.5 million LGB+ people in England and Wales, which is equivalent to the populations of many countries like Cyprus or Estonia and more than the total number of people working in the NHS (1.2 million). We are also proud to work on behalf of approximately 262,000 people who identified as trans and non-binary within the Census. A figure higher than the population of U.K. cities like Newcastle, Wolverhampton or Southampton.
We know that figures provided in the Census represent only a small proportion of all LGBTQ+ people, and we hope that an increasing number of our communities feel confident to self-disclose in future Censuses.
Unfortunately, there are a range of reasons why people won’t feel able to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity. The historic and ongoing attitudes towards LGBTQ+ communities, particularly trans and non-binary people, will stop many from feeling safe to provide this information. Meanwhile, many LGBTQ+ people are living within households and environments where they are unable to be open about their gender identity, sexual orientation and trans identity. As such it will be years before we get an accurate picture, informed by figures from, and comparison with, future surveys.
Previous data collation landmarks, such as ethnicity monitoring, have led to changes in commissioning and a greater understanding of barriers and inequalities. We hope the data from the Census supports local and national policymakers that advocate for LGBTQ+ people and promotes a richer and more detailed understanding of our community’s needs.
We advocate for increased monitoring beyond the Census, for example across health and social care settings, to ensure a rich tapestry of data around the experiences of LGBTQ+ communities is documented. Recording sexual orientation, trans status and gender identity is a huge first step in making LGBTQ+ people feel included.
LGBTQ+ communities experience inequalities in every area of life, and regardless of the size of this population, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. We thank the Office for National Statistics for starting this journey and will continue to work with communities and organisations that wish to build on this extraordinary work.
For guidance and information about data collection and monitoring visit: lgbt.foundation/monitoring.
For the latest information about LGBT Foundation visit lgbt.foundation.