“Legal equality needs to result in health equality for GLB New Zealanders, and that begins with census, being counted,” a leading medical researcher says.

The Gay Men’s Sexual Health (GMSH) research group, which is based  at the University of Auckland has repeated calls to include sexual orientation in the 2018 census and has requested those who agree with the inclusion to make a submission.

“A single question on sexual identity is the simplest way to measure sexual orientation in census,” says Dr Peter Saxton, Director of the GMSH group.


Statistics New Zealand does not currently support inclusion of sexual orientation in census data collection, despite recommendations made in a special report in 2010 which called for a question on sexual orientation to be part of the census.

Inclusion is now overdue.” Dr Saxton says.

“Although it’s true that specialised surveys can ask more nuanced questions about sexual attraction, identity, behaviour and partnering, nothing comes close to census for providing accurate information on small populations like gay, lesbian and bisexual New Zealanders.”

“Census is used to count, identify geographic concentrations, and monitor progress over time. Census informs research design and the delivery of health services. It allocates resources.” Dr Saxton says.

“Legal equality needs to result in health equality for GLB New Zealanders, and that begins with census, being counted,” says Saxton.

“If the census is useful for other groups in society, then it will also be useful for gay, lesbian and bisexual communities and those who provide services to them” says Dr Saxton. “So long as sexual orientation is omitted, gay, lesbian and bisexual New Zealanders will remain invisible in official statistics.”

“We understand that non-response and data quality are a concern if some people object. But evidence from health surveys shows the opposite: most adults (generally more than 99%) are willing to answer a question on sexual identity.”

“And while some individuals might not understand what sexual identity is or consider it too intrusive, some people also feel this way about topics like income, religiosity or ethnicity, yet those topics are included. It’s discriminatory in principle to hold a question about sexual orientation to a higher standard,” says Saxton.

Submissions on the 2018 census close 3rd July 2015 at

 Article | Levi Joule.