People in the LGBTI community in Scotland are being urged to return their census ahead of next week’s deadline.
For the first time in its history, the census is asking questions about sexual orientation and trans status or history, alongside a wide range of other questions.
The Equality Network, which is one of Scotland’s national organisations working for the rights and equality of people who identify as LGBTI, has long campaigned for the sexual orientation and trans status questions to be included, so that statistics can be obtained about LGBT+ people and how they live in Scotland.
The organisation is urging members of the community to complete the questions in order to get the best possible statistics in relation to LGBT+ people, and in turn have better planned services.
In a video clip released by the Equality Network, University of Edinburgh doctoral researcher of LGBTQ entrepreneurship Rowan Rush-Morgan said: “There’s a stereotype that Glasgow and Edinburgh are the LGBTQ centres and I think the census is really important to highlight that there are LGBT people living in all parts of Scotland, not just big cities.
“And it would be really interesting eventually to see what percentage of the population of LGBT people are rural versus urban because the way that services are planned at the moment is very much centred around specific cities, and it’s really hard for some people to access particular services.”
Paul Daly of LGBT Youth Scotland said: “This census is an exciting moment for Scotland and for young people that are LGBT because it’s the first time they will ever truly be counted.
“As the census is taken across Scotland undoubtedly there will be individual young people in households with perhaps parents or guardians that they’re not out to, so it’s quite easy to envisage a situation where a young person won’t be out to their parent but yet they still want that information to be captured.
“So to allow for that to happen, the census is open to people that are aged 16 and above to go online and apply for an individual survey and then that’ll override the information that’s provided by parents or guardians or information such as sexual orientation and gender identity.
“When the information that’s gathered by the census is published it’s used by a lot of different stakeholders.
“So for example, at LGBT Youth Scotland we’ll be able to use the date to look at the numbers of young people who respond and say that they’re LGBT and we’ll be able to use that in things like funding applications across Scotland to make sure that there are adequate youth groups and spaces that are safe places for LGBT young people to attend.”
Eleanor Sanders White, from the Equality Network added: “The great thing about the census is that its kept anonymous and confidential for the next hundred years and then after that its made public but that’s so people can learn about people and that’s also an incredible thing, being able to look back at people 100 years ago and who they were.
“It’s not just LGBTI people alone, and that’s all this is about. If we have that question then you can see how it interacts with other marginalisation, and that’s incredibly important. ‘Intersectionality’ is thrown around as a buzzword all the time but rarely do you have the data on it and rarely is there actually action on it.”
The sexual orientation and trans status questions are only for people aged 16 and over, and they are voluntary, meaning that it is not an offence to skip either of them.
Across Scotland so far over 2.2 million households have completed the survey, with more than four in every five households having done so in 30 local authority areas.
Completed census questionnaires should be submitted by the end of May, with those who fail to do so potentially facing prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.