Information about sexual orientation has not previously been collected in the census. Following feedback from the Census 2021 topic consultation, we committed to exploring whether to include a question on sexual orientation in Census 2021 and published our outline Sexual identity research and testing plan (PDF, 516KB).

We included a question on sexual orientation in the 2017 Test. You can see the findings of this in the 2017 Test report. You can read about the findings from our research in the Census 2021 topic research report: December 2017 and the Census 2021 topic research report update: December 2018. As a result of our findings, we have recommended inclusion of this topic in Census 2021.

Further question development and testing informed the recommendations in the government White Paper Help Shape Our Future: The 2021 Census of Population and Housing in England and Wales (PDF 886KB), published in December 2018.

News and reports

26 June 2020, we published two reports on Sexual orientation question development for Census 2021, and Exploring existing data on gender identity and sexual orientation.

In September 2019, we published a report presenting the Guidance for questions on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation for the 2019 Census Rehearsal for the 2021 Census, which includes a summary of the research that has informed the drafting of this guidance.

24 November 2017, Quantitative research on data quality and non-response for sexual orientation

Households were randomly selected from the address register to take part in this survey.

The fieldwork took place between 13 November 2017 and 24 December 2017.

IFF Research, an independent research agency, was contracted to undertake the research on behalf of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS is responsible for the census in England and Wales.

20 January 2017, Public acceptability questionnaire

As part of the research looking at the possible inclusion of questions on sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2021 Census questionnaire, we commissioned Ipsos MORI, an independent research agency, to study the public acceptability of asking such questions in a census. The fieldwork took place during January and February 2017.