Sexual orientation

SD Sophie Davies Public Seen by 472

Information on sexual orientation is an area of interest in New Zealand and internationally. The gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities are becoming more visible as societies become less discriminatory about non-heterosexual relationships.

Sexual orientation is not currently collected in the census or any other Statistics NZ surveys.

Independent research we commissioned supports a need for information on sexual orientation, with growing evidence that members of sexual minority populations are disadvantaged across a range of social well-being, health, and economic indicators.

Inclusion in the census may not be the best way to meet customer requirements for this information as sexual orientation is conceptually difficult to define and measure, particularly given the self-completed nature and finite space of census. There are also concerns around data quality and intrusiveness.

Our current recommendations relating to sexual orientation

  • We recommend that sexual orientation not be included in the 2018 Census.

See our preliminary view of 2018 Census content for a more detailed discussion on sexual orientation information

Summary Week 4

16 people have been commenting about Sexual Orientation.

  • it is a high quality discussion
  • there is support for collecting data about Sexual Orientation
  • the implications of not having statistics include organisations not creating inclusive policies, government services can't be planned for, and discussions such as amendment to Marriage Age and Adoption Bill are had without basic information
  • sexual identity is being collected in the Health Survey. While this is helpful people are not just sexual beings (e.g. they are parents, renters, workers, homeless, school children...) and many other issues won' t be addressed unless the data is wider than this
  • there are three aspects to Sexual Orientation (sexual identity, sexual behaviour, sexual attraction). Sexual Identity would be the most appropriate to have in Census
  • concerns raised about asking Sexual Orientation in the Census could also be applied to other questions that are already asked in the Census

Lisa (Facilitator) Tue 28 Apr 2015 11:36PM

Kia ora, talofa, hello, and welcome to the Census 2018 discussion on Sexual Orientation. Statistics New Zealand wants to know what people think, so here’s your chance to have your say. I am really looking forward to hearing from you on this topic.

I am also facilitating the discussions on gender identity and sex.


Kabel Manga Fri 1 May 2015 1:26AM

I think that sexual orientation gets excluded enough everything. Surveys, research, campaigns, healthcare etc. Our communities constantly feel like they are never represented or included. I think the kind of statistics that the census could get about our communities would be super helpful in helping us working to get included in everything else. Though I also acknowledge that a lot of people will probably see it as unnecessary to state who they are attracted to, which is fine too.


Lisa (Facilitator) Fri 1 May 2015 2:43AM

Welcome @kabelmanga1 and thanks for starting the discussion. Have you got specific examples of how having census data could help?


Kabel Manga Fri 1 May 2015 2:59AM

Looking at the stats from the Youth 2000 series, those stats are used and talked about a lot within the Queer support sector. They are super useful when talking about the specific issues faced my queer youth. However those stats are just youth numbers. I think statistics around queer whanau would be amazing for example. You ask questions around education, myself and a lot of my queer friends left high school because of harassment, how many others didn't finish school? So many workplaces and schools will refuse to create inclusive policies claiming "we dont have those people here" statistics would prove otherwise I think and in an ideal world, help to make moves towards workplaces and schools and health services etc actually acknowledging us and not treating us like less. Ideally. :)


Nat Fri 1 May 2015 4:09AM

The flow-on effects for this are actually more significant than you might think. I do work with organisations on representation of underrepresented groups in traditionally cis-het dominated industries. It's hard to have discussions because we lack accurate data on the representation in the industry as this data is never collected - we can talk about women in STEM, but we can't talk about LGBTQI representation without people demanding numbers. Help us to help other people. Collect the data that is needed.


Kay Sat 2 May 2015 12:34AM

There is growing support in Government for evidence based decision making. Without statistical evidence how can government services be planned adequately? This is particularly important in relation to gender diverse people especially for health related services but also for people of diverse sexual orientations. Others have talked of bullying and exclusion. When government agencies and others assume that everyone is straight (and cisgender) that has an impact on decisions and planning for future services.

If we lived in a world without prejudice and violence this might be less important but for current realities we need better information. For example, what percentage of housing for homeless youth is LGBTIQ friendly? In Auckland the majority of housing providers for homeless youths are faithbased organisations who are not perceived as LGBTIQ supportive. If New Zealand is like the USA, then between 25% to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTIQ. How well are they supported by the current options? Better population data on seual orientation and gender identity may help ground decision making for real needs.


Lisa (Facilitator) Sat 2 May 2015 8:28AM

Welcome @nat1 and @kayscarlet. Thank you both for providing examples of how data on sexual orientation would be used.


[deactivated account] Sat 2 May 2015 9:37PM

Yes, very happy for sexual orientation data to be collected. Just wonder, though, whether some of this data may be compromised by reluctance to reply correctly - ie if an adolescent didn't want their parents to know?


Kate Chamberlin Sun 3 May 2015 1:48AM

I agree with guy - statistics for adolescents will most likely be compromised - however, this happens anyway, in particular with the smoking questions.
At the same time, I don't know whether youth should be included anyway, as a large amount of them don't have a definitive answer until they are an adult.
For these reasons I think sexual orientation should be included for people over 18. It would provide valuable insight which could be useful to other countries and to us for providing suitable amounts of support, consolidating ideas about equal marriage rights, and would even help businesses ie. Gay bars to know where their clientele would lie. I think it is definitely worth asking.


Pegasus Springtail Sun 3 May 2015 3:07AM

There is no sexuality question in the New Zealand (NZ) Census.

I believe there is a substantial population of non-heterosexual (gay, bisexual, lesbian) people in NZ. Why don’t we, as a country, know? It seems to me to be erroneous to collect statistics on other human-constitution realities like gender, age, and race, but not sexuality. This leaves us ignorant at best, and discriminatory at worst.

The Census is run and administered by Statistics New Zealand (www.census.govt.nz, www.stats.govt.nz), which states that Census information is used by businesses, iwi (Maori tribes), councils, and the government to make decisions that affect us all. The statistics collected are used to determine how government funding is spent on services in the community, and to allow councils, community groups and businesses to plan for the future.

The slogan for the 2013 NZ Census was “You count – Mā Tātou”... Except non-heterosexual folk, it seems.

Anecdotally, 5% of NZ is non-heterosexual. It could be as low at 1% or as high as 15% in some areas. But we just don’t know. If I were to use the 5% figure, that would equate to about 223,000 non-heterosexual individuals in NZ. For comparison, that’s about 23,000 more than the population of our capital, Wellington City.

The non-heterosexual community is a distinct group that has different needs, characteristics and wants to those of the general population – just like how men, or Chinese people, or 18 year-olds are different from the general population. It’s just a fact. I don’t believe the needs, characteristics and wants of non-heterosexuals are adequately funded, resourced, studied, or understood. This leads to problems.

Non-heterosexuals and their families have different health needs – think of their higher rate of: sexually transmissible infections; mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicide/suicidal thoughts; alcohol and drug abuse. And often, non-heterosexuals will not receive medical care tailored to them because society and the medical profession is hetero-normative.

Non-heterosexuals have different reproductive and family needs – think of what it takes for a non-heterosexual couple to have a child, and raise it as a legally recognised family.

Non-heterosexuals have concerns and needs around equality, discrimination, and policy – think of the recent gay marriage Bill, gay adoption, social isolation or being singled out, next-of-kin problems, fear of persecution, bullying, whether or not to be 'out' at work, hate crimes/speech/actions, and rejection by family and friends.

Non-heterosexuals also need their own social environments, e.g. different community/sports/support/youth groups, bars or clubs, entertainment and cultural identity events (e.g. the Pride Festival, the Out Takes gay film festival, Rainbow Sports Weekend). This allows them to interact with each other, meet friends and partners, have fun, exercise, learn, grow, and help others in a supportive, non-threatening environment. I do not believe we have enough of these, and I am certain there is a complete lack of them in many parts of the country. The ones that do exist could certainly benefit from more support and funding.

Non-heterosexuals have different needs in old-age. They are more vulnerable to inappropriate standards of living because they are more likely to be single, childless, and lack other family to support them. They might suffer because of isolation and loneliness, and may be discriminated against or abused in rest-homes by ‘carers’. There is going to be an increasing number of ‘out’ non-heterosexuals reaching retirement age and old-age (thanks to the more-accepting society we are beginning to develop) – to plan for this, we need statistics that we currently do not have.

The first census to ask about sexuality would undoubtedly be one of discovery. But it is not just about a question in isolation. Its strength would come from it being paired and analysed against every other question in the census. For example, it would show not only how many non-heterosexuals there are, but where they live, their socio-economic status, and what type of family units they live in. We need to know about people to allocate funding and resources, to plan for the future, and to contribute to benchmarking around the world. Furthermore, it would indeed feed in to the very psychology of non-heterosexuals themselves.

There is another important application, again with global applications – academia. Within (and without) academic circles, there is sparse data on the proportion of non-heterosexual people in populations. Anthropologically, this is negligent. The very idea of a ‘queer bloc’ is even disputed by some. Any data that does exist is anecdotal, observational, unreliable, or incomplete. Proper data is essential for reliable studies in non-heterosexual theory, which can flow into any other area of study or research.

There was a question in the 2013 Census about same-sex ‘civilly united’ couples or same-sex de-facto couples. This is essentially a question about 'marital status'. It does not allow us to extrapolate the non-heterosexual population. Let us not forget, too, that: civil unions have only been extant since 2005; the question fails to capture bisexual people who are in opposite-sex couples; and that it also only refers couples who live in the same house.

So, what would a sexuality Census question look like? It’s not going to be ‘Are you gay, yes or no’. It could probably look something like this:

Do you identify as:
•Don't know
•Other, _____________
•Object to answering this question (similar wording appears in the religion question)

I believe that the Census is the right vehicle because a separate survey would be more confrontational, expensive, and would not be commissioned for the entire population.

Statistics New Zealand has expressed concern that homophobia and immaturity may cause answers to a sexuality question to be skewed, however I believe that erroneous responses would be easily identifiable and omitted. Such responses occur in other questions too, such as religion.

The biggest concern, I believe, is that some non-straight people do not want to be counted, or do not see the point of being counted. This is because: They think that non-straights are the same as straights and object to the distinction; They are conspiracy theorists complaining about 'invasion of privacy'. These arguments could be applied to any question in the Census. These people are selfish, and don't care about the greater good for gay people in NZ and overseas.

The other reason for not wanting to respond to the question is being closeted. They fear that they will be outed amongst the millions in a national survey, and persecuted for it. This is just not likely.

“In any case, it would still be extremely valuable to know the population of 'out' or freely self-identifying non-straights.”

Springtail says anyone can make a submission to Statistics NZ to include a sexuality question in the next Census, in 2018.

“They plan very far in advance, so don’t dilly dally.”


Kay Sun 3 May 2015 4:47AM

Even if Census responses provide an underestimate or incorrect responses initially, over time trends will make responses more clear and reliable. Normalising openness about sexual orientation, and emphasising confidentiality of the Census, should both help ensure that it will be a better approximation of reality.


Kay Sun 3 May 2015 5:09AM

Pegasus' comments above about reproductive differences are somewhat broadbrush and I would be hesitant about applying them. Non-heterosexuals may not be a useful term if it is used to exclude bisexual (and pansexual and fluid etc) people some of whom live in different sex relationships. The Census is a snapshot of that day. The statistical information is useful for future planning but it is not a complete description of how people have lived their lives previously, or will do in future. For example statements like "Non-heterosexuals have different reproductive and family needs – think of what it takes for a non-heterosexual couple to have a child, and raise it as a legally recognised family." may refer to exclusively gay or lesbian couples, but may not apply to a person who has children from a previous different sex relationship regardless of how they identify now. Some heterosexual people face similar fertility challenges to same sex couples too.

The Census should ask clear questions about how a person identifies now, and can include information about current living or partnered status. It cannot be absolute about how a person will live in future.


Josh Chapman Sun 3 May 2015 8:03AM

I have to point out too, for reasons of establishing healthcare appropriate to need, the questions would also need to be so flexible as to, for example address "the man who identifies as heterosexual, but has done or currently sleeps with men, or the man who identifies as gay, but has done or currently sleeps with women". I know a number of people in both camps. So you could ask it as a tick box, each row is as stated;
heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, Asexual, Don't Know, Other, but each column a tick box for gender of sexual partners [men previously] [men currently], [women previously], [women currently], [none/never].

Food for thought.


Pegasus Springtail Sun 3 May 2015 9:45AM

Thanks for your responses, Kay.

Yes, my comments about non-heterosexual reproductive and family needs did not go into detail. That does not mean they aren't important. I feel like your response was aimed to muddy the waters without acknowledging this.

The differences that non-heterosexual people go through to reproduce and raise children are vast. Consider a lesbian couple: They have to find someone to donate, which is not easy. They also have to: be comfortable with that donor; consider the level of involvement that the donor and his family and friends will have with the child, if any; seek legal advice and have legal documents drawn up, signed and witnessed; raise the child in a hetero-normative society, where the arrangement might not be accepted; and deal with legal oddities about who the parents are etc. These are just examples, I'm not au fait with it all.

You are wrong in saying that the troubles that some heterosexuals face when having children are equivalent to what is 'normal and everyday' for non-heterosexuals.

Regarding your comments about the term 'non-heterosexual', where you interpret that it wouldn't cover bisexual people in opposite-sex relationships... That is just silly - someone doesn't stop being bisexual just because they happen to be dating an opposite sex partner at that time. As a comparative example, if a Caucasian man is in a relationship with an Asian woman, that man is still Caucasian - he doesn't change is race.

I'm well aware that a Census is a snapshot of information - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. ANY argument against including a sexuality question in the Census, can and should be applied, rationally, to every other question in the Census.


Racheal McGonigal Sun 3 May 2015 11:27AM

"You are wrong in saying that the troubles that some heterosexuals face when having children are equivalent to what is ‘normal and everyday’ for non-heterosexuals."
Sorry Pegasus Springtail but this sort of comment gets me.
On what do you base you opinon upon? Where are your facts? Based on a data base of how many?

Sorry but unless you can subtantuaite this claim, it is rubish, laughable and a joke and doesnt serve you well at all.

Hey, you need a censis an the NZ Statistics Dept


Pegasus Springtail Sun 3 May 2015 2:52PM

I'm sorry, Racheal. I should have put it more simply. Let me say it another way.

Lesbian couples generally always go through the process I mentioned, whilst heterosexual couples generally just have sex.

That is the difference.

This is based on my experience over 35 years. But you're right, I haven't conducted a study. I presume you have? Please share your results.


Lisa (Facilitator) Sun 3 May 2015 11:02PM

Please remember you agree to the Terms of reference when on this website. This means not engaging in personal attacks, nor making comments that aren't nice.

These census discussion threads are full of people make generalising statements. Asking someone to substantiate is fine - but do it nicely.

This is a discussion forum not an agreement forum. State your views and let others have theirs.


Ella Anais Mon 4 May 2015 1:52AM

I think sexual orientiation information should absolutely be included so that our country can get a better idea of how big these communities are. This will allow us to better service and fund them.

There are lots of ways of conceptualising sexuality and they are all contested in various ways. I think if the Census includes sexual orientation (which I believe it should) lgbtqia+ communities should be consulted with as to how it is done. I would recommend stepping away from just the big three - gay, straight, bisexual - and allowing communities who get even less representation to represent themselves. "Asexuality" should definitely be there and I think also "pansexuality" (which is my own sexuality).


Damian Light Mon 4 May 2015 6:13AM

This should definitely be included, it's important and will help making decisions based on fact (not assumption).

I agree with the comment from @Pegasus Springtail that there is a risk of some people not wanting to reveal it, but that's a societal issue that needs resolving, not hiding behind.


Kiran Foster Mon 4 May 2015 6:17AM

Friendly reminder that trans people exist, and that (for example) myself and my partner, both transgender and in a queer relationship, have recently conceived.


Lisa (Facilitator) Tue 5 May 2015 9:18AM

Thanks @ellaanais and @josh_nz for discussing how the data on sexual orientation might be used. As Josh points out, how someone identifies might not be reflected in their behaviour. Research around sexual orientation often uses 'sexual orientation' as an umbrella term, under which are: sexual attraction, sexual identity, and sexual behaviour - that is, three things make up a person's sexual orientation. Is this framing useful?


Josh Chapman Wed 6 May 2015 12:25PM

I would say @LisaAtStats that it is useful in general yes, but if there was a way that respondents could almost tick boxes as i'd mentioned and/or indicate (similar to a 1-10 scale) where they may fall I think that would be a better way StatsNZ would be able to get a thorough and well-dimensioned output. One that not only New Zealand can utilise, but would be extremely beneficial to countries and organisations worldwide. Not since Kinsey has there been a serious attempt at gauging sexuality, and that was male-focused, and I believe there is plenty of time between now and 2018 that StatsNZ would be able to word the question and answer so succinctly that responder error/omission (whether deliberate or accidental) is minimised.

If a digital platform is available by 2018 either wholly or partially, there is further opportunity to assist in anonymising data whereby a respondent would complete an exercise online for a particular question or set of questions, and is given an alphanumeric code to put as a response on the census form, giving further assurance that any member of the public (or any family member) would not be able to extract or assume the content of information/answers given.


Kay Wed 6 May 2015 1:38PM

Kinsey's work on men's sexuality was released in 1948. He followed than up with another, just as important report on women's sexuality in 1953 @Josh_NZ . 1 to 10 is probably too wide a scale - 0 to 6 like Kinsey should be enough. Maybe with the addition of other variables for asexual people.


Lisa (Facilitator) Fri 8 May 2015 5:00AM

The Ministry of Health in their New Zealand Health Survey is collecting data on the three aspects of sexual orientation. Data on Sexual Identity will be available mid December, with data on Sexual Attraction and Sexual Behaviour presumably some time next year.


Karin Fromuranus Sun 10 May 2015 6:20AM

that sounds interesting, lisa! can you talk a bit more about that, or point me to some links?


Bridget Murphy Mon 11 May 2015 4:22AM

Kia ora, Bridget from Ministry of Health here.

As part of the 2014/15 NZ Health Survey we are running a Sexual and Reproductive Health Module, similar to the UK's National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL). The Sexual Orientation section covers: sexual attraction: ever, sexual attraction: in the past year; sexual experience and sexual identity.
So you may like to look at the NATSAL infographics downloadable here http://www.natsal.ac.uk/home.aspx, or at the UK's Integrated Household Survey's Sexual Identity infographic: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/integrated-household-survey/integrated-household-survey/january-to-december-2012/info-sexual-identity.html .
Please note we've not committed to any publication time-frames for the Sexual & Reproductive Health data.

From 2015/16 onwards Sexual Identity will be part of the core NZ Health Survey - that is, the question will be asked every year.
Finally here's a link to the Health Survey publications (nothing on sexual orientation yet): http://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/national-collections-and-surveys/surveys/current-recent-surveys/new-zealand-health-survey?mega=Health%20statistics&title=NZ%20Health%20Survey


Richard Arnold Thu 14 May 2015 6:09AM

Regarding the points made in the discussion document: there seem to be two major points: [1] it hasn't been done before and [2] the data may not be reliable.

The fact that no other statistical agency hasn't managed to get this question onto their censuses doesn't mean NZ shouldn't be first. It just means it's difficult to do.

Ethnicity, descent and religion are all difficult too - and the data from those questions are notoriously unreliable for certain purposes as well. Those questions are retained because, imperfect though the data may be, they give us all an indication of make up of our country.

With questions on sexual orientation already included in the NZ Health Survey, the difficulty with creating a classification standard suitable for the census seems overstated to me. Given the amount of work already done here and elsewhere it should be possible to create a question and a statistical standard classification.

Regarding acceptability to people answering the question - a "refuse" box would cover that concern. In any case the UK Integrated Household Survey report on Measuring Sexual Identity (2010) found (1) no reduction in overall response rates to the survey when the question was or wasn't included and (2) a greater than 96% response rate to the question where it was asked. That's a better response rate than the income question gets.

New Zealanders will get used to a question of this sort the more often they are asked it, and the more normal and everyday it becomes. The sooner we start asking, the sooner we'll get to that state.

  • Richard Arnold

Damian Light Thu 14 May 2015 6:24PM

@richardarnold that's a great response! Couldn't agree more!

Just because its hard doesn't mean we should do it and we do for other questions so it is possible.


Bridget Murphy Thu 14 May 2015 11:39PM

This is the classification of Sexual Identity that's used in the UK and in the NZ Health Survey:
1 Heterosexual or straight
2 Gay or lesbian
3 Bisexual
4 Other
.K Don’t know
.R Choose not to answer


Lisa (Facilitator) Fri 15 May 2015 4:40AM

The Ministry of Health is collecting all three aspects of sexual orientation (sexual identity, sexual attraction, and sexual behaviour) in a Sexual and Reproductive Health Module, and then going to collect Sexual Identity every year as part of the core Health Survey.

People have discussed many ways that sexual orientation data might be used. Is it necessary to collect all three aspects of sexual orientation, or can one (or two) aspects provide the information needed?

Thanks @bridgetmurphy and @richardarnold for your great contributions to this discussion, and welcome also to @karinfromuranus.


Richard Arnold Fri 15 May 2015 5:31AM

The census is about identity - let's leave it at that.

We don't ask people how often (or even whether) they go to church, or Maori people whether they ever go to a marae. I think the attraction and behaviour questions can be left aside.

And of course the census questionnaire can't just keep growing in length.


Siân Munson Sun 17 May 2015 6:22AM

When doing research concerning the LGBTIQQ+ people inNZ it is incredibly frustrating that there is no documented data to work from. While I think it's great that the Health Survey is now seeking data unlike the census not everyone takes part in it so while its a great start its usefulness is decreased. I think it's beyond time that sexual orientation was included in the census. Heteronormativity is alive and kicking in the health sector and probably many others, a good idea of numbers of people who identify with the LGBTQQI+ community would be helpful.


Siân Munson Sun 17 May 2015 7:32AM

I read elsewhere on this board that Statistics NZ consider health to be the main concern for LGBTQQI+ people. I would suggest while health issues are of concern that is dragging people's sexual orientation back to them as sexual beings. In fact LGBTQQI+ people have many issues other than health. These include but are not limited to violence, suicide, homelessness, increased risk of poverty (particularly lesbian women and Transgender people) and discrimination. There is a real need for us to have an understanding of how many LGBTQQI+ people we have nearing retirement so we can forward pls for their housing needs in later life.
As a Lesbian who is also a researcher and a Registered Nurse it is beyond frustrating to hear that sexual orientation isn't seen as important. One of the results of my research is that lesbian and bisexual women are deeply hidden in society and often their needs are overlooked.


Lisa (Facilitator) Tue 19 May 2015 4:49AM

One of the great strengths of the Census is providing regional data. As @sianmunson and @pegasusspringtail have commented, this could be useful for developing retirement housing and business planning. How else do people see regional data around sexual orientation being useful?


Lisa (Facilitator) Thu 21 May 2015 4:25AM

Anyone else want to comment on whether the three aspects of sexual orientation are needed (sexual identity, sexual attraction, sexual behaviour) or whether sexual identity, (as proposed by @richardarnold) is sufficient for the Census?


Kay Thu 21 May 2015 8:05AM

I agree with Richard both for asking often as education
"New Zealanders will get used to a question of this sort the more often they are asked it, and the more normal and everyday it becomes. The sooner we start asking, the sooner we’ll get to that state. "

And that sexuality identification is sufficient for the Census. Other surveys or research may go deeper but having a minimum base would be helpful.


Siân Munson Fri 22 May 2015 4:27AM

I think at this stage sexual identity would be sufficient although the researcher in me wants attraction and behaviour as well because sometimes behaviour or attraction aren't seen as identity in some people.

Other areas of use for the data would be for data for funding submissions for LGBTQQI projects, giving an idea as to whether the project was sustainable or required in an area. An example might be an LGBTQQI focused rape crisis service or LGBTQQI victim support or health service.


Duncan Matthews Fri 29 May 2015 4:06AM

Kia ora,

Apologies that I don't have an opportunity to review all comments before making my own.

Agree in principle with the idea of capturing sexual orientation, as there is a significant need for resources to be directed to support this community, and for building in contract clauses around requirements for mainstream providers to specifically work to be inclusive of this community.

However, feel it could be easily confused with, or miss, 'sexual behaviour', which can be different to what someone describes their orientation as. In terms of targeting health $$, sexual behaviour may be a more relevant piece of information to capture.

As a common example, a cisgendered male may identify as heterosexual and wish to marry someone who identifies as female, but have sex with other cisgendered men at some point (or though out their life). In terms of health, their sexual behaviour puts them at a higher risk of contracting HIV, but their orientation does not.

But then, issues of disclosing sexual behaviour in a multi-person dwelling could also be problematic!

In short, I fully support and hope that the census captures some information around sexual orientation or behaviour, as more information is always better than less!

The very question being present in the census also helps to raise awareness across Aotearoa, and helps us progress as a society towards being more inclusive and welcoming.



Andrew Hey Sun 7 Jun 2015 10:15AM

I was on the fence, but the discussion here makes it seem like it would be useful to include a question on sexual orientation. I think it would be easiest to ask for sexual identity, and leave it up to the person answering to decide what exactly that means to them if the answer isn't straightforward. The options suggested by Pegasus Springtail would be suitable for anyone, as they also include the right to opt out, or fill in an identity that doesn't fit the main categories.

Some have suggested putting an age limit on this question. I think we need to consider that kids are going through puberty at earlier ages, and some are coming out in their tweens. They should be counted and have their identities respected. But I imagine most would simply tick "don't know" or "none/asexual" (or their parents would so so for them if they're too young to fill out a form). Either way, I think it's good to send a message that it's their identity and that it counts.

In terms of precedents for studying sexual orientation through questionnaires in NZ, it would be worth looking into The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study: http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/our-research/research-groups/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study.html
The fifth wave of this study includes the question "How would you describe your sexual orientation?", and simply provides a blank to fill in. They explained that they "opted for an open-ended item so as not to assume particular orientations or descriptions [which] allowed participants to describe their sexual orientation using whatever terms they preferred.

Unfortunately they haven't released any studies on the results at this stage, but the data is available here: https://cdn.auckland.ac.nz/assets/psych/about/our-research/nzavs/NZAVSTechnicalDocuments/NZAVS-Technical-Documents-e20-Sexual-Orientation-Statistical-Standard.xlsx
In 2014, 74.7% expressed Heterosexuality, 4.5% expressed non-heterosexuality, and 20.9% refused or were invalid. What is also clear is that many (5.6%) didn't understand the question, so the design of the question and provision of options/suggestions are important factors in producing accurate and useful data.


Lisa (Facilitator) Wed 10 Jun 2015 9:23AM

Thanks everyone for contributing to a really high quality discussion about the need for data on Sexual Orientation. A few people have mentioned the consequences of NOT having data on Sexual Orientation (homeless options potentially not being LGBTIQ friendly, needs for older LGBTIQ people...). More information or stories like this could also contribute towards a demonstration of need for data.


Kabel Manga Wed 10 Jun 2015 10:17PM

This has probably been said,
Ive been working in supporting LGBTIQ young people for years and the most common thing that i hear is "well, whats the point, theres only one or two of you anyway" people don't want to change their systems because they think there is no need purely because our community never gets included in surveys so we don't know the real number. Well actually, "we" know the number, the people who actually work to support LGBTIQ people. Health services/ schools / homeless shelters, any services that works with wellbeing, etc don't know the numbers and don't see the need to change for something they don't believe is a real need.

In the mean time, organisations are running to support the LGBTIQ community that are being left out of the mainstream and the people who are supporting those people are untrained, un paid and massively overworked. All because the people who should be doing that work and think there is no need, don't have the numbers.


Kay Thu 11 Jun 2015 8:58AM

Workplace productivity research shows that where people feel marginalised or bullied that their productivity is reduced. Many corporates are considering signing up to diversity programmes like the Rainbow Tick or getting a copy of the NZ Standard for Rainbow Diversity. Employers don't just do this to be nice. They want the best outcomes for their company and this may include health and well-being of staff. More information about who New Zealanders are - as workers, customers, and students - will help ensure their needs are considered and appropriate policies adopted.

Does a workplace family picnic include same sex couples? Are same sex couples with children welcome at the local school? Will a parent who is transitioning be treated with respect at parent teacher evening? What about a transgender teacher at a parent teacher evening?

Showing there are more than straight and cisgender people in the world, and having an idea about that diversity, will help central and local government plan services, support and information. For example, LGBTIQ people are more vulnerable to being on the receiving end of violence than straight and cisgender people but the number of trained Diversity Liaison Officers in the police force is inadequate to ensure sensitive and appropriate support to LGBTIQ victims of crime. Better data about population groups may help justify additional professional development and support. Mind you, I also think the same about more women in the police force for similar reasons.

At some future time if prejudice against people of different sexual orientations didn't exist, then the questions could be reviewed. For now there is a need for information.


Lisa (Facilitator) Fri 19 Jun 2015 3:40AM

Loomio discussions AND the submissions close on the 30th June.

As I have said before, there has been really high quality discussion in this thread and I strongly encourage you to make a formal submission.

While all the discussions on Loomio will be formally assessed, your best opportunity to influence census content is to make a submission.


Lisa (Facilitator) Fri 19 Jun 2015 3:49AM

Thanks @kayscarlet and @kabelmanga1 for those examples.

Are there questions in the census that people are interested in having a breakdown by Sexual Orientation? (See the census forms or the Preliminary Views paper).


Lisa (Facilitator) Mon 29 Jun 2015 10:02PM

It's all closing today - Loomio discussions and the submissions.

So there is still time to make a formal submission or put down your last thoughts here.

Thanks for contributing to such a good discussion.