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Australian Census criticised for excluding LGBTIQA+ people

Equality advocates have condemned the upcoming Australian Census for making LGBTIQA+ people invisible and have called on others to sign their declaration.

Just.equal Australia’s declaration, which has already been co-signed by a number of LGBTIQA+ organisations, says the Census on 10 August will perpetuate the invisibility of LGBTIQA+ people and make it harder to address those communities’ needs, including health services.

The group said the addition of a question about non-binary sex in the 2021 Census will not produce any meaningful data.

It has also criticised the Federal Government for ignoring proposals for separate questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations of sex characteristics that would have produced useful results.

No Census has ever asked Australians questions on their sexuality, trans status, or intersex status, leading to difficulties in counting LGBTIQA+ people and potentially in providing appropriate services. 

“The Federal Government’s decision to prevent LGBTIQA+ people from being counted in the Census is an appalling example of outdated prejudice trumping forward-thinking policy,” said just.equal spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton.

“The Government wants to lock LGBTIQA+ people in a data collection closet, but we refuse to be made invisible and have launched this declaration to demonstrate our commitment to being treated equally.

“The declaration expresses our deep dissatisfaction with the Government’s failure to count LGBTIQA+ Australians in the 2021 Census and sends a clear message that the 2026 Census must include us.

“In particular, the declaration sends the message that confusing compromises like ‘non-binary sex’ are no substitute for clear questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, and variations of sex characteristics.

“We urge all members and supporters of the LGBTIQA+ community to sign our declaration, which we will present to [the Australian Bureau of Statistics] and the Government.”

A number of LGBTIQA+ community organisations have already co-signed the declaration, including LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Transgender Victoria, the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, Working It Out, Equality Tasmania, Meridian, Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland, A Gender Agenda, and the Bi Alliance.

An LGBTIQ+ Health Australia webinar held yesterday and available to view now explained the importance of the Census and how people can influence change for the next Census, which will be conducted in 2026.

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