CAMPAIGNERS are stepping up their bid to have Cornish listed as a nationality in the 2011 census.
Thousands have joined the crusade online while MPs and councillors have pledged to lobby the Government to ensure people from Cornwall do not have their identity "swept aside just because they are small in number".
Under current plans, there will be no tick-box for people responding to the census to say they are "Cornish". Instead, they will have to tick "other" and then write in their response.
Critics say the omission will mean many people who consider themselves to be Cornish will not realise they can do this, and instead select one of the other options: English, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish or British.
In 2001, some 37,000 people recorded their nationality as Cornish, leading officials to assign the response a designated code for the first time.
Now campaigners hope to raise the profile of the option to encourage more people to do the same – including a major Internet operation – eventually forcing organisers to provide a Cornish tick-box.
A video launched on YouTube claims it is "unjust and unfair" for Cornwall to be overlooked and not "treated in the same way as other UK indigenous minorities".
It also claims: "The continued refusal of Cornish recognition can only be explained as deliberate cultural genocide."
And on social networking website Facebook, a group called "Cornish Tickbox for the 2011 Census" has attracted the support of more than 2,800 people, including leading MPs, councillors and parliamentary candidates.
The site says: "Many citizens of Cornwall have considered themselves to be different from English for centuries. In Cornwall today, many consider themselves to be Cornish, not English, however, in the plans announced already, there will be no recognition for 'Cornish' on the 2011 census.
"There is, however, a community of us on Facebook that are trying to get the Government to change their decision over this, and to include Cornish on the census."
Meanwhile, the Office of National Statistics is coming under growing political pressure from the county's MPs, including Julia Goldsworthy (Falmouth and Camborne) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) who have demanded a tick-box for Cornwall.
St Ives MP Andrew George has urged people to ensure they record their nationality as Cornish, even if a box is not made available.
"It is important that Cornish people should be given the opportunity to record their identity," he said.
"The Cornish identity should neither be ignored nor suppressed in the modern United Kingdom – we make a significant contribution to the celebration of diversity throughout this country and in a wider world. No-one's identity should be ignored, or swept aside just because they are small in number."
The issue of Cornish language and identity was "considered" by the Office of National Statistics but was "not included in the proposals for the 2011 census".
Other topics considered, but rejected, included fertility, Internet access, pet ownership and use of renewable energy resources.