Nepal | September 28, 2020

Activists demand inclusion of LGBTI in 2021-census

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, August 25

Rights activists representing sexual and gender minority groups, also known as LGBTI, said the government should incorporate a category termed ‘other’ to include them in national census to be held in 2021.

Activists drew attention of the government after the Central Bureau of Statistics did not include ‘other’ category in the first draft of questionnaire, allowing people from LGBTI community to identify their gender. Draft of the questionnaire had only ‘male’ and ‘female’ options for people to choose their gender.

People representing diverse queer community — lesbian, gay, bisexual, Trans-gender and intersex or LGBTI — said the government should amend the questionnaire. The questionnaire has been sent to various
local governments seeking suggestions on data collection method. National census is held in every 10-year.

Sarita KC, executive director of Mitini Nepal, said the government should allow gender minorities to choose their true identity, as government plan and policies about such types of people are made on the basis of national statistics. KC said people from LGBTI community coming forward to reveal their identity was unimaginable 10 years ago. “They have come a long way and the government should show respect to their struggle by supporting them to establish their  identity in society,” she said.

She added, “It is an opportunity for people from LGBTI community to be represented formally in government documents.” KC, however, stressed that the government should launch various awareness raising programmes through mass media to encourage minority groups to come forward to reveal their identity.

Stigma attached to people of gender minorities due to lack of education and social bias were hindering such people from revealing their identity.

PinkyGurung, chairperson of Blue Diamond Society said it was time for granting formal recognition to their identity by the government and it had to build proper platform to let gender minorities come forward. She said, “First, questionnaire for national census should be gender friendly, and employees collecting data should be well informed about LGBTI community.”

The 2011 census had informally recorded that there were 1,500 people from the community. But the data was not published in the report after right activists were against publishing it. They had said the figure on LGBTI community could not be trusted as many people did not reveal their identity fearing social stigma. Right activists claimed that there were around 2.5 million people of gender minority across the country.

Tirth Raj Aryal, information officer of CBS, said since the questionnaire was not final draft, they were open to make changes as per suggestions from stakeholders. “We can arrange trainings for our employees and are ready to attend any kind of workshop to understand issues facing LGBTI so that no one would be left out in the census,” he said.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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