Census could ask: are you straight, gay or bisexual?

Everyone in the UK could be asked about their sexual orientation on the 2011 census under controversial proposals currently being considered by Government ministers.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS), which compiles the census, has opposed the move claiming that the results would not be accurate.

However, ministers have been “asked to look at it again” according to Michael Foster, a minister working for Harriet Harman, the Equality Minister.

This development follows reports in August that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) planned to “lobby for a question on sexual orientation to be included in the 2011 census” despite strong opposition from the ONS.

The EHRC is expected to make a presentation to MPs this week, pressing for the question to be included in the census.

The ONS has previously announced that the question would not feature in the £500 million 2011 census.

It stated that it had “significant concerns surrounding the issues of privacy, acceptability, accuracy, conceptual definitions and the effect that such a question could have on the overall response to the Census.”

Nick Hurd MP, the Shadow Minister for Charities, Social Enterprise and Volunteering, has labelled the census “increasingly invasive” and “intrusive”.

The question is likely to be optional, casting further doubts on any figures produced.

The EHRC, the Government watchdog chaired by Trevor Phillips, claims that the question is important for measuring the success of equality legislation.

Official statistics on the number of civil partnership registrations suggest that the homosexual population is much smaller than the Government estimates.

The Government assumed that five per cent of the UK population was homosexual and, based on this, expected there would be 62,000 registrations in the first five years. The figures however look set to fall well short of that.

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