Scotland's next census will include a gender neutral option
The next census to be held in Scotland will include a host of new questions including sexual orientation, transgender status and history.
Due in 2021, Scottish residents will be encouraged to fill out their census questionnaire primarily online, with support and help available for those who need it.
The details of the updated census were revealed in ‘Plans for Scotland’s Census 2021’, published by National Records of Scotland.
Proposals for the census such as the way it will be conducted and the questions it will ask were outlined in the latest publication, with a host of new questions and options also included.
The census will ask new questions, including whether the respondent is a veteran.
It is also proposed that questions on sexual orientation and transgender status and history will be asked.
It is understood that questions of sexual orientation and transgender status will be included following a Bill set to be introduced this parliamentary session to allow sexual orientation and transgender questions to be asked on a voluntary basis.
Currently, people can only be identified as male or female.
The report also gives details of what consultation, tests and stakeholder engagement have been conducted to help shape the proposed questions so far.
All proposed questions will be outlined to the Scottish Parliament for agreement before the census takes place.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, said: “For more than 200 years, Scotland has relied on the census to underpin national and local decision making. The census is the only complete source of whole population information about Scotland.
“By encouraging and assisting people to complete their census online, and asking questions which reflect a modern, inclusive Scotland, these proposals ensure the census will continue to be a vital source of information for decades to come.”
Anne Slater, Registrar General for Scotland, said: “The publication today of ‘Plans for Scotland’s Census 2021’ is a major milestone in delivering a successful census. These proposals have been developed based on robust research and testing and we have consulted many people and organisations to take full account of Scotland’s diverse population.”
Scottish Trans Alliance praised the proposals describing the changes as a “really positive step”
A spokesman said: “It is important that with the sex question that everyone feels comfortable to answer, to be true to themselves.”
However, the proposals have not been welcomed by all.
The Rev David Robertson, former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland said: “The Scottish Government has continued to give in to the current gender madness based upon unproven and unscientific philosophy.
“There is a tiny group who are intersex - which is an exception- but exceptions make bad rules.
“There is no scientific evidence for this bizarre view and it is disappointing that the Scottish Government is giving in to this agenda.”