Members of the Scottish Parliament will today (Thursday) debate changes to the questions asked in the official census, next due in 2021.
Changes have been proposed to include voluntary questions on a person’s sexual orientation, and on whether they are transgender, for the first time.
The Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill has been through a Holyrood committee, which heard evidence from a number of organisations and produced a ‘stage 1 report’ recently.
The committee recommends wider consultation on the proposals over the next year, especially on the detailed wording of the census questions on sex, sexual orientation and trans status.
However, 6 of the 9 members of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, chaired by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, did not accept a recommendation to introduce a third sex option for non-binary people.
Vic Valentine, Policy Officer at the Scottish Trans Alliance, said:
“We welcome that the Committee supports the general principles of the bill, that there should be voluntary questions on sexual orientation and on a persons trans status.”
“However we disagree with the Committee’s recommendation that the compulsory question asking the persons sex should be restricted to male and female answers only, because that means that, once again, non-binary people like myself will not be able to answer the question correctly and honestly.”
Any changes to the official questions in the 2021 census need parliamentary approval and are likely to go through further consultation and committee stages before a final version is placed before MSPs for a vote.
You can watch today’s debate on the Scottish Parliament TV channel here.