Are British Sikhs getting an option to be an 'ethnic group'? Not anytime soon
By Barfi Culture Team
24th July 2018

Yesterday the Times sparked an angry debate online after running a story titled 'Sikhs to get ethnicity status in Census'.

The story was over-blown, and the headline was later changed to 'Sikhs may get..," but that did not stop some from getting over-excited.

Here is the background.

Some British Sikh groups are campaigning for an option to tick 'Sikh' as their ethnicity in the next UK Census, in 2021. Around 12% of Sikhs (83,000) chose 'other' as their ethnicity on the last Census in 2011.

Its these Sikhs the campaign wants to give a voice to. It is being led by the Sikh Federation UK, and supported by the two Sikh MPs Preet Gill and Tan Dhesi.

The Times learnt that the campaign managed to get 112 Gurdwaras in the UK to sign up. The newspaper added: "It is understood that the ONS was likely to back the move if it received backing from more than 60 per cent of the gurdwaras that responded."

But there are estimated to be at least 300 Gurdwaras in the UK, plus many more Sikh organisations and charities. So that number represents less than a third of Sikh institutions.

Surprisingly, the Times did not ask the Office for National Statistics (which is in charge of all this) for a comment, which wasn't as enthusiastic in its backing as the newspaper of the campaign.

The ONS simply said its recommendations for the Census will be included in a White Paper to be published later this year. A White Paper is a government document that presents firm government policies while inviting opinions upon them.

"Sikhs may get ethnicity status in the (next) Census," was all it said. The ONS is also looking at how to classify other groups such as Roma, Somali and Jews.

Sikhs are deeply divided on the issue even if the news coverage does not reflect it.

When the ONS did a test, it found that just 24% who identified as Sikhs (by religion) also ticked Sikh for their 'ethnicity'.

And there were plenty on social media yesterday who questioned the campaign.

Earlier this year Barfi Culture reported on arguments from both sides, by Lord Indarjit Singh and Preet Gill MP, on this debate.

Get our weekly email on the desi diaspora
Barfi Culture is a (recently launched!) news magazine, covering South Asians living in Europe and North America.

»   Balanced news, informative opinions
»   Celebrating our cultures
»   A platform for people

We publish daily. Get our email or find us on social media (tw: news; fb: culture; insta: images).

Find out more | Tell us your story
Barfi Culture is a news-magazine on South Asians in Europe and North America.
(This is what makes us different)

Editorial Policy | Contact Us