Last week, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) backed down from a legal battle over guidance for the question: “What is your sex?” The guidance advised people to “use the sex recorded” on either a “birth certificate, gender recognition certification, or passport”.
The ONS changed its guidance to advise people to use the sex recorded on a birth certificate or gender recognition certificate when answering the question.
This came after High Court judge Mr Justice Swift ruled the guidance should be rewritten to remove the words “such as” and “passport”.
But campaigners have hit back and encouraged people to ignore the new guidance and said people should not feel pressured to answer the question.
Transgender charity, Mermaids, lashed out at the guidance by the ONS and said: “It is not mandatory to read the ONS guidance before completing the census.
“Individuals must answer to the best of their knowledge and belief.
“You should not feel pressured to give an answer that you know to be false.”
Gendered Intelligence, a national trans-led charity, added in a blog post: “Our advice to non-binary people, as unhappy as it makes us as an organisation to give, is to respond with whichever one feels closest to your understanding of your sex.
“The guidance around using any identity document as proof may have been withdrawn, but this does not mean you should feel obliged to put down incorrect information.”
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People can be fined up to £1,000 for failing to fill out the Census in England and Wales as it is a legal requirement.
It is also an offence to supply false information.
Once every 10 years, the Census comes around and it gives a snapshot of all the people and households in England and Wales.
The first Census was held in 1801 and the last Census took place in 2011.
Census 2021 will be particularly unique as it is the first digital-first Census.
The Census will be held on Sunday, March 21, but there is confusion over the deadline people have to fill out their Census.
The Census website states every household should complete their Census on Sunday, March 21 or “as soon as possible after”.
The Census Act 1920 makes it compulsory for everyone in England and Wales to participate.
Questions about sexual orientation, gender and religion are all voluntary.
The form indicates which questions are mandatory and which are not.