It’s official: Nepal’s population, according to the preliminary report of the National Population 2011 census is 26.6 million.
But while official figures for men and women have been made public, the government has not kept its promise to include the third gender— Nepal’s transgender people— in the country’s census.
In January 2011, the government had announced that third gender people would be included in the national census.
“Earlier, we had only two categories, men and women. But in the upcoming census, we are including a ‘third gender’ category,” Bikash Bista, director of the Central Bureau of Statistics that conducts the census was quoted in the AFP.
In 2007, Nepal’s Supreme Court passed a decision guaranteeing a third gender option in their citizenship.
However, Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s only openly gay parliamentarian, says the Supreme Court decision hasn’t really materialized.
After meeting with Nepal’s new Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai to discuss the issue on Tuesday, he was quoted in local media as saying, “PM Bhattarai is very positive to our concerns. However, the bureaucracy is not in our favour.”
But bureaucrats in the country, including the PM’s secretary, give their valid explanation.
According to Leelamani Paudel, secretary at the Prime Minister’s office, there are other issues that should be prioritized and are at the forefront before the third gender citizenship issue.
A country that has recently come out of the conflict and setting up a new identity, Nepal faces a looming deadline of writing its new constitution. And along with it, the country is facing several challenges regarding identity issues: while people of different ethnic backgrounds are demanding separate federal states, the southern belt of Nepal is fighting its own war on an independent statehood.
And as new Nepal is progressing and coming out of rigid social protocols, people aren’t afraid to fights for their rights and equal social status.
While the government’s decision to give citizenships to third gender people and include them separately in the census are signs of a new Nepal, lack of its implementation and the bureaucratic hurdles still proves that the new republic has a long way to go.