Attendees of the first pride parade in the capital of Nepal Kathmandu (Photo: Queer Youth Group)
LGBTI rights advocates in Nepal have encouraged the government to conduct a census of the LGBTI community.
According to local LGBTI publication Pahichan, the government last conducted a survey 10 years ago.
They found 4,000 people identified as LGBTI.
But, according to Pahichan, Nepal’s population of LGBTI people numbers more than 500,000.
They report that about 300 LGBTI public service sector workers are out. This suggests the number of LGBTI people in the whole country is much higher than 4,000.
Now that the government has shown interest in conducting a census of the LGBTI population, activists are urging the government to conduct the research in a sensitive way.
‘Bureau [of statistics] should arrangement separate forms targeting this community’ Pahichan urges.
It also urged non-governmental LGBTI groups to assist the LGBTI community to partake in the census.
Both the UK and Hong Kong have recently considered collecting census data on the LGBTI community.
In Hong Kong, experts said a census would provide empirical evidence of LGBTI citizens.
Proposals for the United Kingdom’s next census, in 2021, include voluntary questions about sexual orientation and gender identity.
If the questions are approved, it will be the first time the UK has tracked this information in their census.
LGBTI life in Nepal
The mountainous South Asian country also legalized gay sex in 2007.
Theoretically, it has laws to protect LGBTI equality. But, local activists have warned, that is not always the case in practice.
Furthermore, many LGBTI Nepalis have rejected the third gender on citizenship documents. This is because it does not guarantee accompanying rights.
For example, Nepalis are unable to get driving licenses with a third gender ID.
‘There has always been a romanticization of Nepal as being one of the more tolerant countries in Asia; however, the ground reality is very different’ organizer of this year’s pride parade Rukshana Kapali said.
A new criminal code enacted in August last year failed to guarantee equal marriage.
Lawmakers last year promised the LGBTI community parliament would continue to discuss and advocate for LGBTI issues.
These included citizenship issues, same-sex marriage, domestic violence, adoption, and access to health and education.