scorecardSikhs will be listed as separate distinctive ethnicity in 2021 UK census
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Sikhs will be listed as separate distinctive ethnicity in 2021 UK census

Sikhs will be listed as separate distinctive ethnicity in 2021 UK census
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
  • Over 100 British lawmakers, including several of Indian origin, have suggested that authorities list Sikhs as a distinct ethnicity in the 2021 UK Census.
  • This might be a great step towards giving the community a fair access to all public services in the country.
  • More than 83,000 Sikhs chose to write “Sikh” next to the option of ‘any other ethnic group’ rather than ticking any of the choices under the question on ethnicity.

The numerically strong Sikh community in the UK will now be listed in the 2021 British census as a distinctive ethnicity, different from Indian or British Indian identity.

The UK State Authority has acknowledged it as a major step towards giving the community a fair access to all public services in the country. The data is used for resource allocation by the central and local government to inform policy development and help organisations meet and monitor their statutory obligations.

Over 100 British lawmakers, including several of Indian origin, have asked authorities to allow Sikhs to be a whole different ethnicity. In the most recent Census of 2011, more than 83,000 refused to tick any of the choices given under the question on ethnicity. They rather chose to write Sikh next to the option of ‘any other ethnic group’.

However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is a little sceptical about how the public will react to this change and about whether all the 430,000 Sikhs in the country will approve of it. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs, chaired by Preet Kaur Gill, the UK’s first female Sikh MP, has offered to write to gurudwaras to assist the ONS with its public consultation regarding this decision.



As far as unique identification is concerned, this is not a first for the community. Sikhs were identified as a separate religion back, in 2001. They had also been legally recognised as an ethnic group in UK's Race Relations Act 1976 under British law to prevent discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin in the fields of employment, provision of goods and services, education and public functions. Using this as the basis of their demands, the campaigners believe that being recognised by the Act gives them the right to identify themselves separately.

While preparing for the 2021 census, which is largely expected to be an online affair, the ONS ran a test on the 2017 census with 'Sikh' included as an option under the question about ethnicity. This was mostly done in areas with large Sikh populations - Hounslow in West London and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands region of England. The test found that almost a quarter of those who specified Sikhism as their religion also chose Sikh as their separate ethnic identity.

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