Equality group want gay question on 2011 census

The equality watchdog has reiterated that it wants a question about sexual orientation on the 2011 census despite the Office for National Statistics (ONS) opposing the move.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said in a new business plan that it would continue to “lobby for a question on sexual orientation to be included in the 2011 census.”

The ONS said in March 2006: “The ONS view remains that such questions are not suitable for the 2011 Census.

“ONS has 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.”

But the census does collect data on households. The last census found 0.2 per cent of households are headed by a same-sex couple.

Last year an ONS survey reported that one per cent of the UK population described themselves as homosexual.

Statisticians spent two years deciding how to phrase the question so that they would get the most accurate result.

Despite this, the ONS quickly distanced itself from its own survey. Gay lobbyist, Ben Summerskill, insisted the figure was nearer 6 per cent.

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. However, the figures look set to fall well short of that.

The 2011 census will ask for the first time whether respondents are in a civil partnership.

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