NEWS3 May 2019

Scottish census can include voluntary ‘trans’ and ‘sexuality’ questions

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UK – The Scottish Parliament has agreed that the 2021 census in Scotland can include voluntary questions on ‘transgender status’ and ‘sexual orientation’.

Census crowd_crop

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) agreed on amendments to the new Census Bill legislation yesterday ( 2nd May).

The move paves the way for the census to include new voluntary questions on ‘transgender status’ and sexuality, although the wording of the actual census questions will not be confirmed until after the bill has passed.

At the moment, only questions about religion are voluntary in the census.

The bill to amend the Census Act was introduced by Fiona Hyslop, the cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external Affairs, in October 2018.

It has since been amended following criticisms from Holyrood’s culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee that the proposed changes conflated sex with gender identity.

The committee has proposed that the census should keep the binary male/female question to gather data on sex and add another separate question regarding gender identity.

The Scotsman reported that Hyslop told the committee: “The question on transgender status and history is voluntary and it is vital that nobody feels in any way compelled to answer the question. It is right it should be voluntary and that means there is no penalty in not answering.”

In Westminster, a bill has been published that will also amend the Census Act to remove penalties for not responding to new questions on sexuality and gender identity in the 2021 Census in England and Wales. The legislation will allow these questions to be answered on a voluntary basis for the first time.