Sikh ethnicity should be recognised in the 2021  census, a south-east London MP has told Parliament, throwing her support behind long-running efforts to have the option added to the once-in-a-decade survey. 

Abena Oppong-Asare, MP for Erith and Thamesmead, voiced her support for the inclusion of a Sikh ethnic tick-box option on next year’s census at a Government debate on Wednesday.

It comes after the committee of the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Belvedere, who represent around 6000 attendees across Erith and Bexley, have repeatedly voiced their desire for the inclusion of the “long overdue” recognition.

It was a cause Ms Oppong-Asare got behind at the Draft Census Order debate, with the first-term MP saying the option would allow better monitoring of discrimination against Sikhs.

“If Sikhs do not have an ethnic tick box option, then their needs will not be properly monitored and assessed by public bodies,” she said.

“Just because discrimination is not properly monitored, it does not mean it doesn’t exist.”

She added there was a “clear demand” for the inclusion of a Sikh ethinic tick box on next year’s census, citing an independent survey of UK Gurdwaras in which all 112 were in favour of the option.

Information on ethnic groups gained from the census is used by 40,000 public bodies to fulfill legal obligation under equalities legislation, as well as to allocate resources and the provision of services.

Sikhs have been legally recognised as an ethnic group for nearly 40 years – since the Mandla v Dowell-Lee case House of Lords ruling in 1983. This ruling has provided the basis for recent legal challenges regarding the inclusion of a Sikh ethnic tick box.

Last month the Sikh Federation UK (SFUKSFUK) brought a second judicial review in the High Court against the Cabinet Office over the draft Census Order 2020.

The federation are also considering legal action against Scottish Ministers over their decision not to include a Sikh ethnic tick box option on the Census 2021.

The population census takes place every 10 years.

In the last census in 2011, more than 83,000 Sikhs rejected the 18 existing ethnic tick boxes and chose instead to tick ‘other’ and write ‘Sikh’.