The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has issued a “statement of regret” for omitting key LGBTIQ+ topics in the 2021 census. 

Following an official complaint filed with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding the omission, the ABS has voiced remorse for any distress experienced by members of the LGBTIQ+ community during their census participation.

The ABS says it recognises that the absence of questions related to gender identity, variations of sex characteristics, and sexual orientation had caused some respondents to feel marginalised and excluded, both during the census process and in the subsequent presentation of results. 

It has also acknowledged the potentially hurtful language used in past census questions, acknowledging instances where respondents felt demeaned or discriminated against.

As a proactive step, the bureau has unveiled plans to establish an “LGBTIQ+ Expert Advisory Committee” for the 2026 Census. 

This committee will offer guidance on relevant questions, ensuring inclusivity, and providing insights based on real-life experiences. 

The ABS's spokesperson has confirmed that this committee will encompass individuals from academia, government agencies, non-government organisations, and the LGBTIQ+ community itself.

The 2021 census had included only three options for gender identification: male, female, and non-binary sex. 

This lack of granularity led to confusion, with individuals identifying as non-binary, trans, or intersex often resorting to write-in responses that included sexual orientation. 

The ABS acknowledged this confusion and expressed its intention to rectify this issue in the 2026 census.

Rosalind Croucher, President of AHRC, has welcomed the ABS's response as a “great outcome” that showcased the potential of the commission's conciliation process in driving meaningful and systemic change. 

Equality Australia's legal director, Ghassan Kassisieh, echoed this sentiment, urging the government to reflect the diverse nature of the Australian populace in the forthcoming census.

The full statement is accessible here.