Central Bureau of Statistics to include third gender option in upcoming censusThe questionnaire for people with disability will be based on Nepal law.
“We have decided to include the questionnaire referring to LGBTI. Now, the questionnaire will include male, female and others to identify the sexes in a household,” said Dhundiraj Lamichhane, director at the bureau.
However, he said the census would not generate separate data on the different subgroups within the LGBTIs. “We have agreed with the LGBTI community to conduct a separate survey in the future, where we will further disaggregate the LGBTIs.”
Earlier, the bureau had prepared a questionnaire excluding the LGBTIs, arguing that it would be difficult to get information about the third gender in a family because the bureau usually records the responses from the main person in a household who may be reluctant to open up on third gender family members.
This line of thinking came to prevail due to the fact that only 1,500 third gender people were identified during the last census in 2011 and the bureau didn’t publish a report on the number of third gender people, as per the request of LGBTI community.
While the LGBTI community in Nepal itself has no data on its population, it said that some studies have suggested that around 8-10 percent of the total population identifies as LGBTI.
“Irrespective of the results, we wanted to know the exact number of LGBTIs,” said Manisha Dhakal, executive director of Blue Diamond Society, a representative body of LGBTIs in the country. “So, we had suggested the inclusion of a questionnaire on LGBTIs in two separate categories— sexual minorities and transgender.”
The transgender denotes a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
The LGBTI community believes that people who conduct headcounts would understand the meaning of the third gender if they are categorised as sexual minorities and transgender instead of bracketing them as others. However, the bureau officials said that they would be collecting the data on LGBTIs as ‘other’ sex. But, the bureau will define the term ‘other’ as a sexual minority in its manual.
Dhakal said that they are in favour of incorporating third gender in the census to set a precedent and to facilitate the government’s efforts to identify sexes and recognise the sexual minorities within the definition of minorities.
Although the constitution has talked about the rights of sexual minorities, it has excluded their political representation in a proportional manner.
“If the census produces a low number of LGBTIs because of people not speaking up, we will be disappointed, but accept the results. It will also give us the energy to make further efforts to ensure that our communities open up about their sexes,” said Dhakal.
The Blue Diamond Society believes that more LGBTI people would open up about their sexual orientation in the upcoming census because of the growing trend among LGBTIs to speak up.
Dhakal stressed training the enumerators so that they could encourage sexual minorities to open up about their gender.
“We are also mobilising our team and efforts for the purpose,” said Dhakal.
Meanwhile, the bureau has not heeded to the demand of people with disabilities that the questionnaire should be based on the standard set by Washington Group on Disability Statistics, a body under the United Nations Statistical Commission City Group.
The main purpose of the Washington Group is the promotion and coordination of international cooperation in the area of health statistics focusing on disability measures suitable for censuses and national surveys. It has developed questionnaires for the census which are most related to what type of disability one is suffering from, instead of whether one is blind or deaf.
“We are going to include questions, based on the law of rights of people with a disability,” said Lamichhane.
The law has classified disability in terms of types of disability such as physical disability, blind and deaf as well as the severity of the disability.
The bureau has said that it would be conducting a pilot census in 14 districts, two districts each from every province, in March.
According to the Lamichhane, the director at the bureau, the selected districts include Panchathar and Morang from Province 1; Parsa and Dhanusha from Province 2; Kathmandu and Makawanpur from Province 3; Kaski and Baglung from Gandaki Province; Rupandehi and Pyuthan from Province 5; Surkhet and Jumla from Karnali Province; and Dhangadhi and Darchula from Sudurpaschim Province.
“Through the pilot census, we expect to figure out the potential problems we could face during the upcoming national census,” said Lamichhane. “We can then effect some necessary changes accordingly in the questionnaire and other preparations for the census planned to be conducted from June 7 to June 21 next year.”