Courtney Act joins advocates to demand LGBTIQ+ people counted in the census

August 9, 2021 – Stop leaving LGBTIQ+ people out and count us in – that’s the clarion call of Equality Australia, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, and leading LGBTIQ+ community and health groups as they join forces with Courtney Act ahead of census night to demand inclusion in the next national survey.

While this year’s census includes new questions pertaining to prior military service, and chronic health conditions, it still doesn’t include questions about sexual orientation, gender identity or variations in sex characteristics.

“Once again, lesbian, gay, transgender, intersex and queer people won’t be properly counted in this year’s census”, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“Despite the recommendations of local governments, non-government organisations, and the Commonwealth departments of health and social services to include us, and the promising testing of possible questions by the ABS, the responsible minister – Michael Sukkar – decided not to proceed.

“Without these questions, the once-in-five-year snapshot of the population won’t capture the full diversity of our community. It’s a missed opportunity to inform crucial decisions about what services are provided to our communities, and where.”

Advocate and performer, Courtney Act, released a video with Equality Australia and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia to raise awareness of the issue and to build pressure on the Federal Government to include the questions in the next census.

“It’s 2021 people – we’ve got to move with the times. The UK and New Zealand have questions in their censuses, but still Australia does not”, said Courtney Act.

“The real-world reality is that intersex people, and people of diverse genders and sexualities face unique challenges when it comes to things like mental health, homelessness and aged care.

“The census is also important for understanding the impact of marginalisation at intersections within our own community. For instance, community leaders and elders need quality data so we can work
together to close the gap for LGBTIQ+ First Nations folk.”

Available data from the existing population surveys indicates that LGBTIQ+ people experience disparities in health and wellbeing outcomes.

“Our communities experience significant health disparities, especially poorer mental health”, said Nicky Bath, CEO of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia.

“LGBTIQ+ young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to have attempted suicide than the general population. Transgender people aged 14 to 25 are a shocking 15 times more likely. There is evidence of elevated rates of drug and alcohol use, higher rates of HIV and STIs, and a significantly
higher cancer burden.

“The immense challenge is, we just don’t know in which parts of Australia our communities live, and a whole range of other important data to understand the contributing factors to our poorer health.

For the first time, the census will be asking people about chronic health conditions, and we won’t know how many LGBTIQ+ people are affected, this data for our communities is vital.

“We have worked consistently over many years with the ABS and Government advocating for inclusion of these questions in the 2021 Census and we will continue to lead this advocacy so that we can be counted in 2026.”

Equality Australia, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia and Courtney Act have launched a petition, which has gained more than with more than 22,000 signatures, calling on Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar to ensure the questions are included in the next census.

The Equality Australia and LGBTIQ+ Health Australia #CountUsIn campaign has also been supported by an alliance of other community, human rights and health groups, including ACON, AFAO, Amnesty International Australia, Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA), Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras,
Thorne Harbour Health and Transgender Victoria.

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au