A Melbourne-based trans woman has lodged an e-petition before the Australian Parliament urging lawmakers to change rules to ensure LGBTQI people are counted in the 2026 Census.
LGBTQI organisations had launched a public campaign in 2019 asking the then federal government to count the community in the 2021 Census, but the Scott Morrison government decided against it.
“This essentially meant that neither the federal nor state governments within Australia have any definitive data about lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer and other sexuality and bodily diverse Australians within their communities; or the intersectionality of this data with other factors such as health, income, culture, location,” Evalyn Venture, trans entrepreneur and life coach, said in her petition.
“The lack of current population-level data limits understanding of health and wellbeing needs of LGBTIQA+ people, and both the development of policy and allocation of resources for LGBTIQA+ communities.”
A Missed Opportunity
LGBTQI advocacy organisations including Equality Australia said that the 2021 Census was a “missed opportunity to inform crucial decisions about what services are provided, and where.”
One of the few changes that the Australian Bureau of Statistics made for the 2021 Census was the addition of the non-binary option. However, last year the ABS admitted that the change had failed to yield any meaningful data.
Around 0.17% of the population chose the non-binary sex option, but the ABS determined that “in the absence of separate questions relating to gender identity, sexual orientation and variations of sex characteristics, many respondents chose to use the non-binary sex category to record responses for these characteristics”.
ABS Seeks Public Submissions
Earlier this month, the ABS called for public submissions about topics that should be included in the 2026 Census of Population and Housing. Advocacy organisations urged the community to let the ABS know that LGBTQI people should be counted in the next census.
The public consultation is open till April 28, and the ABS will make its recommendations to the government in 2024.
Venture’s petition asks the House of Representatives to “makes changes to the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to legally mandate the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ data within the census.” The petition, which closes on April 5, 2023, has so far received around 1200 signatures.
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