On Monday 11 February 2020, the Guardian Australia reported that the 2021 Census Regulations had been lodged by the Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar – without any new questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
In case it wasn’t clear before this, it is now undeniable that, as far as the Morrison Liberal-National Government is concerned, LGBTI Australians don’t count, and we therefore shouldn’t be counted.
The ramifications of this exclusion will last for most of the 2020s. The next opportunity to include sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics will be the 2026 Census. Data from that Census will be progressively published from 2027 onwards, meaning service-delivery based on that data, in health, education and other community services, is unlikely before 2028.
The decision to effectively erase LGBTI Australians from the Census will be felt for most of the next decade (at least). Shame on the Minister, and Government, who would prefer us to be invisible.
It may not seem all that important right now, with everything else going on, but whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians are included in the 2021 Census will have a long-term impact on the health of our communities.
The Commonwealth Treasury Department is currently conducting a public consultation on Exposure Draft Census and Statistics Amendment (Statistical Information) Regulations 2019.
Submissions close next Friday, 10 January 2020. If you have the time, please consider making a short submission, asking them to #CountUsIn. More information about how to make your voice heard, from the National LGBTI Health Alliance, is provided below.
Here’s my letter:
Macroeconomic Modelling and Policy Division
Parkes ACT 2600
Submitted via: 2021CensusRegulations@treasury.gov.au
Friday 3 January 2020
To Whom It May Concern
Re: Census of Population and Housing
I am writing to you as a long-term advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, to bring to your attention my personal view about the importance of including questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in the 2021 Census.
For me, a census that captures sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex data will enable us all to better manage our health. It is important for governments at Commonwealth and state and territory level, and service providers, to have access to this data, so that I and my family and friends have the same access to targeted health services as all other Australians.
I am aware that the ABS itself asked the Commonwealth Government to consider sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status questions to be included in the census based on an overwhelming need for this data to be collected.
I also note that in 2017 the Commonwealth Government spent $80.5 million in engaging the ABS to conduct the same-sex marriage law postal survey.
Apparently, asking all Australians to express their opinion about the relationships, and lives, of LGBTI people and their families was acceptable then.
It would be an incredible, and unjustifiable, double-standard to decide that asking people about their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status is unacceptable now.
LGBTI people are part of every Australian community, and everyone deserves to be counted.
We count. Our lives count. Our health counts. Our futures count. It’s time to count us in.
I respectfully ask that you reconsider the inclusion of these questions in the 2021 Census.
One of my main objectives for the blog this year is to include practical information on as many posts as possible about actions readers can take.
In this case, I strongly encourage you to visit the National LGBTI Health Alliance website, where they have provided a draft template letter on which the one above is based.
Please download it, add your own personal message and lodge it by Friday 10 January 2020. As requested by the Alliance, if you are emailing it, please also copy firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for your submission to be made public on the Treasury website.
Make your voice heard. Make sure our community is counted. #CountUsIn2021