It’s been announced that voluntary UK population surveys are, for the first time, to ask people about their sexual orientation.

The Office of National Statistics has said that it will ask people who respond to its surveys to tick one of four options about their sexuality: heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual, or “other”.

The question will be included in all future voluntary annual population surveys, labour force surveys and other government surveys of people over the age of 16.

As is the case with all questions in these surveys, respondents will also be able to ignore the question or tick “don’t know”.

“Better measurement of equality is essential, if we are properly to analyse, understand and address inequalities in society,” Karen Dunnell, the head of the Office of National Statistics told The Independent newspaper.

She promised that the results would be strictly confidential. LGBT activists have widely welcomed the move.

The next compulsory Census survey, in 2011, is, however, not expected to include the sexual orientation question.

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