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LGBTIQ people to be counted by New Zealand census

The next New Zealand population census is set to include questions designed to count members of LGBTIQ+ communities for the first time.

Individuals will be asked about their orientation and gender, as well as their sex assigned at birth and known variations of sex characteristics, permitting the numbers of trans and intersex people to be quantified.

Previously, Statistics New Zealand collected data on sex without clarifying diversity of gender identity and sex characteristics, Stuff has reported.

Advocacy groups have said that these omissions have led to insufficient funding allocation for LGBTIQ+ resources.

Concerns have been raised regarding the accuracy of the data to be collected, which is likely to underreport the numbers of LGBTIQ+ people in the community.

In particular, young people may not be able to safely come out to parents who are completing the census, said Tabby Besley, managing director of charity InsideOUT.

Besley said that a conservative estimate would put at least 10% of New Zealanders in the LGBTIQ+ community. 

Statistics New Zealand social and population insights general manager Jason Attewell said that “all kinds of options” would be available for people to describe their identities, including those who were unsure.

“The rainbow community is an incredibly diverse community, and there’s lots of groups within that,” said Attwell.

This year’s Australian Census was criticised for again failing to include the sexuality and trans or intersex status of respondents. 

A “confusing compromise” of ‘non-binary sex’ was added in addition to the ‘male’ and ‘female’ options.

Advocacy group Just.Equal Australia said that more meaningful data collection was needed to support diverse communities’ needs.

“The Government wants to lock LGBTIQA+ people in a data collection closet, but we refuse to be made invisible,” said spokesperson Dr Charlie Burton ahead of the Census in August.

Australia’s next national Census will be held in 2026.

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