MP expresses disappointment at ONS decision to sideline the Sikh community to an optional religious tick box in the 2021 census
Preet Kaur Gill MP (Image by BirminghamLive)
Chair of APPG for British Sikhs, Preet Kaur Gill MP, last week commented on the ONS decision to relegate the Sikh community from a legally protected ethnicity to an optional religious tick box in the 2021 census.
In a statement, she mentions that the implications of the omission of the Sikh community as an ethnicity are serious. Sikhs face significant disadvantage in multiple areas of life, including education attainment, employment and health outcomes.
The Government’s Race Disparity Audit looked at 180 data sets across government and found no data on Sikhs. According to the statement released by Gill, this is why the community-led campaign to see Sikh designated as an ethnicity is so vital.
In a letter to Ian Diamond, the UK’s National Statistician, Gill outlined how “by the UK Government’s own admission, most public bodies collect data in line with the Census ethnicity question and not the religion question, therefore do not collect data on Sikhs.” She also expressed how, “too often policymakers ignore and forget our [Sikh] community”.
Gill added, “It is ridiculous that following the 2021 census we find ourselves in a position where we still don’t know the basic information of how many Sikhs live in this country.
“These huge gaps in data have severe consequences for my community. The ONS were warned that the absence of a Sikh ethnicity tick box would make Sikhs invisible to policymakers. We must understand how many Sikhs live in the UK and recognise their needs in order to address existing inequalities.
“The optional religious tick box is not acceptable and the ONS must stop hiding behind it. Sikh ethnicity is established in case law and as such, public bodies have a duty when it comes to offering suitable provision. Without this crucial information, the ONS is setting these public organisations up to fail in their duty.”
Eddie Hughes, MP for Walsall North said, “I know this is an important issue for many of my constituents. I am fully supportive of the campaign to see Britain’s Sikh community recognised as a separate ethnic group. Policymakers must have access to this crucial, yet basic information regarding the number of Sikh people and their locations so that current disadvantages can be addressed.”
Read the full letter here: https://twitter.com/PreetKGillMP/status/1600545268524630019/photo/1