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Draft options for 2021 census faces criticism

Census 2021: The draft has come under criticism after not allowing individuals to identify as black Welsh or Asian Welsh. Source: National Assembly for Wales (via Flickr)

By Tomos Evans

There have been several calls for black Welsh and Asian Welsh to be included as options in the next census in 2021. 

In the upcoming national survey, which takes place every ten years, there will be several options for people to choose their identity.  

However, there will not be a black Welsh or an Asian Welsh option.  Instead, participants will be able to complete a write-in option if their ethnicity is not included as an option.   

Several people have said that there is no option on the census that represents their identities.  

Gair Rhydd spoke to Yasmin Begum, a writer and activist from Cardiff, who said, “I am a Taffistani. I can’t tick Welsh Asian on a box: neither could my father, or his father before him.”

“This racism row has come 30 years too late, with the effects of a racist census being acutely felt in Wales. We need a devolved Office for National Statistics like Scotland, and only then will things change.”

Manon Edwards Ahir Tweeted after the publication of the draft Census options.  She said, “Apparently I will be the only Welsh person at home because I am white.  My family will have to choose ethnicity or nationality – they are fiercely proud of both.  So unfair.”

Welsh singer, Kizzy Crawford, spoke to S4C’s evening news programme Newyddion 9 about the lack of an option for people who identify as black Welsh.  

In the interview, Kizzy said, “I haven’t seen anything that represents me.  I’ve always put down mixed or mixed British but that’s not accurate. I consider myself to be Welsh.”

Gwynedd Council has called for the ONS to reconsider the categories on offer in the Census, with Councillor Nia Jeffreys saying: “How it is worded, with only the choice of black British or Asian British, it’s like forcing people to choose between being Welsh or being black or Asian.  It’s not acceptable.”

In light of the response to the Census options, the Welsh Government has announced it will change the options for its annual National Survey for Wales.  

It is expected that the change will be in place by the 2020-21 National Survey.  

In response to the criticism, a spokesperson for the ONS said, “Everyone who wants to identify as Welsh can do so through their national identity and their ethnicity.”

“The census questionnaires are designed to ensure people have the options to do this.”

“We’ve engaged widely with users in Wales and are proposing that anyone wishing to identify as Welsh and another category (including Asian or Asian British and black, black British, Carribean or African) will be able to do so by completing one of the write-in options.”

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