Last year, when Nepal declared it will include a separate gender identity for the queer population, it won accolades from the global community for being progressive. However as the census data started being collected, it was realised that the entire LGBTQ+ community was lumped together as 'others' in the census questionnaire. This discrimination has not gone down too well with local activists.
Earlier this week, Nepal's Queer Youth Group floated a change.org petition demanding to include 'non-binary' and 'third-gender' as valid gender choices in the census. They are also demanding that the government correct its definition of third gender by excluding sexual orientations (gay, lesbian, bisexual) from the definition of 'others'. They even pointed out that only one question gives the 'others' option for gender, not all. Several activists have even taken to social media to oppose this move of the government.
In the 2011 census, the government had included the option for people to identify themselves as 'third gender'. However, only 1500 people chose to identify themselves as members of this third gender. "In the last census, we had attempted to collect the data, but the number was so low and insignificant that it was not considered; the community itself had requested not to include the number. Based on the number we get in this census, we will further plan out a survey that gives a more detailed overview of the community," Dhundi Raj Lamichhane, director of the Statistics Department in the Central Bureau of Statistics had told Online Khabar.
Despite all the good intentions, the queer community says it is discrimatory to not allow a person the right to self-determine their gender. They feel this decision reflects the lack of awareness about the LGBTQ+ community among the officials making these decisions. They point out that the difference between sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) was not considered when lumping all these identities as 'others'.