Scottish census U-turn over sex question

Scottish citizens will be asked if they are male or female – and not if they are “non-binary” – in the next census, following an official about-turn.

Government ministers had planned to include an option to cater for people who said they were neither male nor female.

But now the Government body behind the nationwide poll is proposing to continue with a “binary sex question in Scotland’s 2021 Census”. Parliament is expected to back the move.


It follows criticism from the Culture Committee which said the consultation process on the question had “serious deficiencies”.

All but three members of the Committee voted to keep the sex question limited to ‘male’ and ‘female’ options.

National Records of Scotland, a Non Ministerial Office of the Scottish Government, considered the Committee’s recommendations before changing tack.

It said it was “committed to carrying out further testing” to ensure clarity over “what exactly is being asked, the basis of responding, and how the results will compare to previous censuses”. The census is still set to include a voluntary question on transsexualism.


Before the U-turn, two University of Edinburgh academics warned that some policies in Scotland had been ‘captured’ by gender ideology activists.

Dr Kath Murray and Lucy Hunter Blackburn said a “small number of influential actors appear to have secured a monopoly on how sex and gender identity are understood within Scottish policy-making”.

They said some decisions – such as the census proposal – which had been described as “inclusive” were actually detrimental to women and girls.

The academics called on the Scottish Government to make clear how it was protecting women, as well as allowing open debate on sex and gender identity issues.

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