Bid for 'Sikh' to be ethnic group on census rejected at High Court

The case made it to the High Court

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A bid for Sikhs to be included as an ethnic group in the UK census has been rejected by a High Court judge.

The Sikh Federation UK argued that it would be "unlawful" for the 2021 census not to include a "tick-box" option for people to record themselves as being of Sikh ethnicity.

The federation asked for a declaration that a draft census, which does not contain a Sikh ethnicity tick box, will be unlawful in the event it is approved by Parliament.

But, dismissing the case in a ruling today, Mrs Justice Lang said it was "premature".

The judge said if she had made the declaration sought by the federation, Parliament would be prevented from scrutinising any regulations put forward.

Lawyers for the federation told the court in November that not everyone who identifies as an ethnic Sikh would also identify as being Sikh by religion.

They said the government recognised, during the consultation process for the forthcoming census, that there is evidence to suggest that Sikhs are experiencing "significant disadvantage" in terms of employment, housing, health and education, and that having data on the ethnically Sikh population would help public bodies to "better meet the needs of the Sikh population".

However, the Sikh Federation have told talkRADIO they will appeal the ruling.

Federation chair, Bhai Amrik Singh, said: "We will in the next 21 days be appealing to the Court of Appeal arguing why we are not too early, so the merits of our judicial review claim set out in the High Court hearing in November concerning the need for a Sikh ethnic tick box can be substantively considered and a judgement made as the Cabinet Office minister has failed to lay a draft order in Parliament for almost a year.”

The 2011 UK census recorded about 430,000 Sikhs based on a question about religion, which it was not compulsory to answer.

The Sikh Federation estimates there are approximately 700,000 to 800,000 ethnic Sikhs living in the UK.

The census provides the government and local authorities with information about their local populations, and it takes place every 10 years.

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