Sikh Federation (UK) challenges Census 2021 data declaring majority have stated that they follow “no religion”
Image by Facebook @SikhFedUK
The Sikh Federation (UK) were not surprised with the results of the Census 2021 for England and Wales, when it was revealed this week. The organisation had predicted one of the largest groups would be those stating “no religion”.
In a statement, it said that with 25.8 million or 43.2% either stating no religion or not answering the optional religious questions, those at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have ensured at a practical level public bodies do not need to consider discrimination on the basis of faith.
The ONS, Sikh Federation (UK) says, has allowed public bodies to get off the hook when it comes to inequalities by arguing that because of a major data gap on religion at a national level, they can make decisions and ignore whether they are discriminating on the basis of faith.
The ONS may have permanently hoodwinked people of faith and politicians as this may have been the last census and trends showing that this was the likely outcome, especially if the first option ONS provide to an optional religious question is “no religion”, it said.
Based on those who declared their faith when responding to the religious question, Sikhs have seen a 24% increase as they campaigned to encourage Sikhs to declare their faith. Sikhs and Jews who only saw a 2% increase are also legally recognised ethnic groups and public bodies could be legally challenged if these two groups are not fully considered when making decisions.
Dabinderjit Singh, the principal adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK) said, “The Sikh Federation (UK) has been a lone voice in warning all faiths about the lack of usefulness of the optional religious question where the first option is no religion.
“People of faith should ask why have MPs allowed the ONS in 2001, 2011 & 2021 to have the first option as “no religion” to an optional religious question.
“Over 100,00 Sikhs responding to the ethnic group question chose to protest & reject the existing 19 ethnic group options & wrote Sikh. The number protesting is bigger in number than two of the ethnic group options.
“If you adjust figures for the optional religious question on a pro rata basis for those who did not answer or chose the first option of no religion this suggests the number of Sikhs in England and Wales may be around 925K. This is higher than 13 of 19 ethnic group categories.
“The key question for ONS and Cabinet Office is given 25.8 million (or 43.2%) chose no religion or chose not to answer the optional religious question how do decision makers use the Census 2021 data to work out the number who have an ethnicity that is Sikh.
“Will public bodies and decision makers fail in their equality duty if they are unable to establish the number of people they employ or provide a service to that have a Sikh ethnicity recognised and established in case law when considering discrimination?”