Nepal to include third gender in its census
Considered a global LGBT rights beacon, Nepal has taken the step of including a third gender in its next population census.
With this step, LGBT people in this Himalayan nation as a minority group can be allocated government jobs and education.
While Nepal is considered progressive in LGBT rights, sexual minorities– especially transgender people– are disproportionate victims of violence and poverty.
Likewise, homosexuality is taboo in this country.
Nepal census to include LGBT minority
Presently, Nepales laws prescribe special quotas for minorities in the workplace, school, and to discounted healthcare.
With LGBT people included in the 10-year census and part of the data, they can now be included in these programs.
In the new national census being planned for 2021, citizens can identify as male, female, or other gender, said Dhundi Raj Lamichane of the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Lamichane said this move will help end stigma and challenges that the LGBT community people face when getting support and welfare.
However, a trial will be conducted first in selected districts. Of the country’s 29 million people, there are reportedly 900,000 who identify as LGBT.
The Nepalese constitution adopted in 2015 forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. This also reaffirmed a Supreme Court ruling made in 2008.
LGBT activists laud census action
Despite the fact that this pertains to gender instead of sexual identity, LGBT rights activists still said this action to include the LGBT community will raise its visibility.
“This is a big step in our campaign. This will help establish our identity as a minority group in Nepal,” said Sarita KC, an LGBT rights activist who took part in the government consultation on the census.
However, some expressed concern with the Nepalese government on combining sexual orientation with gender identity in the census.
Kyle Knight of the Human Rights Watch said: “The government would do well to remember that ‘third gender’ can encompass a range of behavior and identities, and also leave out many people who do not identify with the term.”
However, Sarita, who heads the LGBT charity Mitini Nepal, said this was done because of the lack of space on the form and because they wanted “rough data.”
“There are plans for a more specific, detailed survey exclusively for LGBT (people),” Sarita said. “Hopefully by 2022. It will give more accurate data.”
Likewise, Lamichhane said: “We have agreed with the LGBT community to conduct a separate survey in the future” to further disaggregate the data while providing more exact data on the community.