QUESTIONS on sexual orientation and gender identity will be included in the next census - to be held in march 2021 - on a voluntary basis.

The Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill passed its remaining stages in the Commons, having already cleared the Lords, and now only requires royal assent.

Speaking at the third reading of the Bill, Cabinet Office minister Kevin Foster said the aim of the new law is "very simple".


He said: "It provides that two questions could be asked in the census in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland on sexual orientation and on gender identity on a voluntary basis.

"It doesn't mandate those questions to be asked but it does give the opportunity to do them on a voluntary basis."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Christian Matherson said data collected would help to provide services to the LGBT community, including vulnerable homeless people.

He added: "LGBT homeless people warrant particular attention in this discussion not least given the shocking statistics that up to 24 per cent of the youth homeless population are from the LGBT+ community.

"Clearly we are far from solving the issue of discrimination but I hope that the measures included in this Bill tonight will give us the statistics and therefore the tools to help solve that."