British statistics agency to collect data on sexual orientation

by on December 9, 2008  •  In Social science

As  American researchers battle with the Census Bureau over the distortions in reporting same-sex couples caused by the refusal to count legal same-sex marriages, Pink News reports that -

The British Office for National Statistics (ONS) has  announced that all of their major surveys on everything from households to the workforce will from January include a question on sexual identity. The added question is linked to a new law that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to an anti-discrimination bill covering allocation of public services.

[For the 2011 census, there will not be a sexual orientation question, but there will be one on civil partnerships.]

From January, all major ONS survey participants will be shown a card and asked: "Which of the options on this card best describes how you think of yourself? Please just read out the number next to the description. Heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual, other."

A new Equality Bill announced in the Queen's Speech earlier this month will extend the existing duty on public bodies to consider how their spending decisions, employment practices, and service delivery can affect people according to their race, disability, or gender to include sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, and religion or belief.

The argument is that without reliable statistics on how many lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people are in a specific area, it could be difficult for some public bodies to carry out their new duties under the revised law effectively. The ONS will be able to provide information to government agencies on LGB people in a wide range of settings from the workplace to households. For example, the data will inform a local authority of how many LGB-headed families live in their borough.


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