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Fresh push for Census question on sexuality

Thu 28 Feb 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The 2013 Census is next Wednesday The looming Census with the theme “You count – Mā Tātou”, has sparked a renewed push for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to actually be counted next time around. Blogger ‘Pegasus Springtail’ has set up a Facebook page “NZ Census: call for a sexuality question,” backing the long-given recommendations of numerous health and academic groups, and the Human Rights Commission. Springtail says it seems to be erroneous to collect statistics on other human-constitution realities like gender, age, and race, but not sexuality. “This leaves us supremely ignorant at best, and discriminatory at worst,” he says. “The non-heterosexual community is a distinct group that has different needs, characteristics and wants to those of the general population – just like how men or Chinese people, or 18 year-olds are different from the general population. It’s just a fact. I don’t believe the needs, characteristics and wants of non-heterosexuals are adequately funded, resourced, studied, or understood. This leads to problems.” Among the areas Springtail cites where the needs of GLB people are different are physical and mental health, reproductive and family issues, social policy and ageing. “Non-heterosexuals will have different needs in old-age,” he says. “They will be more vulnerable to inappropriate standards of living because they are more likely to be single, childless, and lack other family to support them. “They may suffer because because of isolation and loneliness, and may be discriminated against or abused in rest-homes by ‘carers’. There is going to be an increasing number of ‘out’ non-heterosexuals reaching retirement age and old-age … to plan for this, we need figures that we currently do not have.” The blogger believes the Census is the right vehicle because a separate survey would be more confrontational, and probably wouldn't be commissioned for the entire population. “A separate survey would cost a whole lot more money, whereas the cost of adding it into a Census would be negligible in comparison.” Statistics New Zealand has expressed concern that homophobia and immaturity may cause answers to the question to be skewed, however Springtail says stupid responses would be easily identifiable and omitted. He says such responses occur in other questions too, such as religion, and there would be a ‘prefer not to answer’ option for people who legitimately object. “The biggest concern, I believe, is that some non-straight people don't want to be and don't see the point of 'being counted'. This is because: they think that non-straights are the same as straights and object to the distinction … or they are some kind of conspiracy theorists going on about what they call an 'invasion of privacy'. These arguments could be applied to any question in the Census, but the Census is a legal requirement. “The other reason is perhaps that they are supremely closeted, and fear that they will be outed amongst the millions in a national survey - which is just not likely. “In any case, it would still be extremely valuable to know the population of 'out' or freely self-identifying non-straights.” Springtail says anyone can make a submission to Statistics NZ to include a sexuality question in the next Census, in 2018. “They plan very far in advance, so don’t dilly dally.”      

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 28th February 2013 - 11:00am

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