Currently European statistics on population (ESOP) do not collect statistics on respondents’ sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. These statistics are essential for the inclusion of data on LGBTI people – one of Europe’s minority groups. LGBTI people are a subgroup at risk of inequality and discrimination, and therefore should be included in the update of the ESOP. Indeed, the EU’s LGBTIQ Equality Strategy 2020-2025 states that “reliable and comparable equality data will be crucial for assessing the situation of LGBTIQ people and to effectively tackling inequalities”. The EU has committed itself to being at the forefront of efforts to better protect LGBTIQ people’s rights.
In order to make this commitment a reality, we need quality data which can guide us to where more action needs to be taken and to track progress over time. Although some EU Member States have conducted ad hoc data collection in the form of projects or one-off surveys, this is not comparable to regular collection within standardised surveys, which would allow a more comprehensive picture of LGBTI people and their needs.
While in many EU countries, sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics (SOGISC) are protected grounds in non-discrimination laws and policies, currently no EU Member State includes these grounds in their census. This absence of reliable and regular statistical data on SOGISC presents a major obstacle to measuring progress on tackling discrimination and inequality. NGOs cannot fill the gap for European and national level data collection, as we do not have the necessary resources to carry out regular and comprehensive research which are necessary for better mid- and long-term analysis of trends and developments.
Furthermore, data collected by governments have institutional backing and systems to ensure both that the collection process is equally as robust as any other government dataset, and that data are handled according to strict privacy measures in line with government standards.
Finally, centralised institutional collection of data disaggregated on SOGISC grounds shows political commitment to monitoring equality metrics for LGBTI people; without these data, monitoring is all but impossible. Having access to data disaggregated by sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics for all age groups (including children and young people under 18) would allow for the elaboration of well-informed policy responses to the needs of LGBTI people, and reliable estimates of the LGBTI population in the EU is essential for planning services and allocating resources to support this marginalised group.
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