The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has called on all same sex couples who cohabit to identify themselves as “partners” in the 2011 census.

The 2001 census returns implied that fewer than 1 in 300 – (0.3%) – of all of the couples who cohabit in Britain are in same-sex relationships.

GALHA’s recommendation follows on the heels of the campaign by the British Humanist Association (BHA) encouraging people who don’t believe in God to tick the “No religion” box in the census, a campaign that GALHA also strongly supports.

GALHA Secretary Mike Rickwood commented:

“In an ideal world the number of gay people or gay couples would hardly matter. In the real world, surveys suggesting smaller numbers of gay people, and very few gay people cohabiting – are seized upon by opponents of gay equality with a mixture of glee and desperation to try to argue that too much attention is being paid to the needs and issues of gay people, or even that we are somehow being unfairly “privileged”.

“The new census should reflect the numbers of Civil Partners, but we also know that many gay couples, like many straight ones, choose to live together without legally “tying the knot”. In the past gay people may have had good reason to distrust the agencies of the state, but now simply by filling in a census form to indicate that your partner is your partner, rather than implying that they are a non relation, you are providing a truer reflection of gay people’s place in British society.

“This is a quite different thing to asking people to “out” themselves publically, which should be entirely a matter of personal choice. We’re just asking people to give accurate answers to a confidential survey, where the results may have an impact on gay people’s lives and on gay rights.”

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