Transgender category introduced in Nepal census

Nepal's Central Bureau of Statistics has started its new census with the inclusion of a new category for the third sex in accordance of the land mark verdict of Nepalese Supreme Court on December 21, 2007 that directed the government to guarantee the rights of transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

This is a good beginning and a positive gesture for the rights of the third sex, said transgender activist Sunil Babu Panta, who is also the country's first gay Parliament member.

This will certainly help in ensuring rights of the sexual minorities, he said, adding but we don't have enough preparations to carry out the census.

Due to lack of awareness and fear of social exclusion many gays and lesbians may not express their real sexual identity, he pointed out.The number of sexual minorities is estimated to be more than two million, said Panta, who heads Blue Diamond Society dedicated to the cause of lesbian and gay he said adding but the correct picture may not come out due to the conservative nature of the society.

But only 350,000 third sex people including 50,000 gays and lesbians have so far been identified, according to Panta.

The census will be completed within five months, according to the officials. Nepal conducts population census in every 10 years and the latest estimate puts the population of the country at 26 million

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