The Sunday Times were wrong to suggest the Office for National Statistics will make the sex question in the next census voluntary, the ONS say.
The article suggests, ‘the change will leave Britain without an accurate figure for the number of men and women living in the country.’
They say it comes after protests that it discriminates against transgender and other non-binary people.
However, the ONS has told Gay Star News, the article is not accurate.
They tell us they have asked The Sunday Times and subsequent publications who picked up the story to correct their pieces. Adding in a statement:
‘The document referred to in Andrew Gilligan’s story is an update on research ONS has been undertaking on potentially collecting information on gender identity as well as data on sex.
‘It does not contain proposed census questions and suggests further research is required. ONS has yet to formulate its recommendations for the 2021 Census. Once it has done so the Government will bring forward a White Paper which will include the census questions.
The journalist who penned the Sunday Times piece posted this defense of his story:
The ONS claims it has made no recommendations on whether sex question should be voluntary. The report we quoted recommends precisely that. pic.twitter.com/1Y2VMkZrH0
— Andrew Gilligan (@mragilligan) October 9, 2017
The ONS takes issue with the article because it ‘has yet to formulate its recommendations for the 2021 Census.’
Adding, ‘once [The ONS] has done so the Government will bring forward a White Paper which will include the census questions.’
Feminists greet news with ‘horror’
Or so the Sunday Times article goes on to suggest:
‘The proposal was greeted with horror last night by some feminists, who see it as part of a growing trend to remove all mention of the biological female sex.’
The article quotes writer and academic Germaine Greer who says biological women were ‘losing out everywhere.’
Adding: ‘I’m sick and tired of this. We keep arguing that women have won everything they need to win. They haven’t even won the right to exist.’
Greer is not new in making transphobic comments in the name of feminism. Just last week she hit out at Cambridge University college planning to allow self-identifying trans students to apply.
Moreover, she says, ‘It’s a difficult relationship, having a transgender person in an all-female environment. If [Cambridge University College] Murray Edwards really don’t believe that gender is binary, then they really shouldn’t be a single-sex college. Their position is ridiculous.’
Subsequently, the ONS story was picked up by many major outlets including the Independent, Metro and Sunday Telegraph.
Anti-bullying and trans activist Paris Lees took to Twitter to highlight the similarities of this kind of news in the reporting back in the eighties, with gay men and HIV:
In the 1980s journalists spread similar fears based on nothing but prejudice that the push for gay rights was a plot to ‘influence’ children pic.twitter.com/tMs32JY8Ba
— Paris Lees (@parislees) October 8, 2017
The census survey takes place every 10 years. With the next due in 2021, the ONS is yet to release the new wording which will go to the UK government for approval.