Hong Kong govt rejects calls to include sexual orientation in next census

The Commissioner for Census and Statistics Leslie Tang (Center) (Photo: info.gov.hk)

Hong Kong’s government rejected calls this week to include a question on sexual orientation in its 2021 census.

Lawmaker Michael Tien had urged the Census and Statistics Department to include such a question to help inform government policy.

But, Commissioner of the department Leslie Tang on Monday (7 January) told Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) did not agree.

He claimed people would not give truthful answers.

‘Given the current sentiment, I believe with questions related to sex minorities, I don’t think we can get accurate data on that’ he said, according to RTHK.

Hong Kong’s only gay legislator, Raymond Chan, has been raising the issue in LegCo since 2012.

He said said even if initial data was not entirely accurate the government should ’take the first step’.

‘If the Government does not try to collect any data, we will never know or learn how to do a better job when it comes to LGBT data’.

‘Disrespected and belittled’

Professor Suen Yiu-tung, an Associate Director of the Gender Research Centre at the Chinese University, told RTHK there were two reasons to include sexual orientation in the next census.

The first, he said, was the need for empirical evidence to inform law and policy making.

The second reason, he told the radio show, was symbolic. ‘If you are not counted, you do not count’ he said.

‘When [LGBTI people] are not included it almost feels like they don’t exist in the eyes of the Hong Kong government’.

‘They feel disrespected and belittled’.

Chan told Gay Star News that concerns over how to include non-binary residents in the census revealed how the government is letting down its LGBTI population.

‘Review of LGBT laws and policies is critical. Without this, no reliable or consistent data can be collected and our community will remain invisible’ he said.

LGBTI rights in Hong Kong

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Hong Kong. What’s more, there is currently no legislation to protect citizens against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

But, last week, two gay men won the right to challenge laws banning same-sex marriage.

A 21-year-old University Hong Kong student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, are leading the challenges.

In July, however, Hong Kong’s LGBTI had a reason to celebrate.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled the immigration department must recognize overseas same-sex marriages when issuing spousal visas.

Author: Rik Glauert

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Next UK census may include sexual orientation and gender identity questions

A tattooed man sits at a desk working

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.

The Office for National Statistics released a white paper about this on Friday (14 December).

According to their findings, this census for England and Wales will ‘help shape public services’. It also ensures these services target the communities most in need of them.

For those 16 and older, they may have the opportunity to answer a voluntary question about their sexual orientation. Further, in addition to the question on being male or female, there may be another voluntary question for participants 16 and older about their gender identity.

There will also be questions regarding another group for the first time — veterans of the Armed Forces.

Census is foundation for policy

Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, described the census as the ‘foundation for national and local policy’.

‘The information gathered on the population, people’s characteristics, education, working life and health, enables public services and businesses to properly serve our communities,’ he continued.

National Statistician, John Pullinger, added: ‘The Census is for everyone; it gives us all the opportunity to stand up and be counted in democratic debate and policy decisions.

‘We have designed it with people at its heart and we consulted widely to ensure it meets the needs of society. Unlike previous Censuses, it will be digital first which will make it easier to complete electronically, with help available for those who need it.’

There are similar actions in the United States, with many people calling for sexual orientation and gender identity questions to be included in their next census.

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