New Zealand will leave the question on sex, gender, and sexual orientation out of its upcoming 2018 census.

Statistics Minister James Shaw blamed the move on “silly answers” from some people causing problems with the data, according to Newshub.

“The problem is that people put down different answers and they use different language to describe the same thing,” he said.

“There’s also a lot of people who, frankly, spoil the result by putting in silly answers.

“You see in the questions on religion, for example, something like 51,000 people put down that they followed the Jedi religion.”

Shaw said that other census questions that can be filled in with anything, including ethnicity and religion, suffered initial “teething problems” but LGBTI diversity has remained difficult to capture statistically.

“There is no other country that has managed to crack this in terms of getting this statistical information,” he said.

LGBTI advocate Steven Oates said recording the community’s diversity is an important step, even if the data captured isn’t 100 per cent accurate.

“In terms of health providers, social providers, organisations like Rainbow Youth, policy decisions, you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.

“Currently there is no information.

“There have been lots of organisations that have pitched to the government that this is a good thing to do, especially around gender—there is nothing about how people identify their gender in the census.”

Having been dropped from the census, data on gender and sexuality will instead be collected through the New Zealand General Social Survey.

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