China‘s latest census did not have space to recognize same-sex couples, but the LGBTQ+ community is demanding to be counted anyway, reports Pink News. The census, which started on November 1 and occurs only every ten years, asks participants about their “relationship with the head of the family”.
Many on social media have encouraged LGBTQ+ couples to tell census takers: “They are not my roommates, they are my partners”. LGBT Rights Advocacy China started the social media campaign to help couples gain visibility.
Peng Yanzi, director of the organization, said there is growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ couples in China, but “the system has not kept up with the times”.
He said that many LGBTQ+ people refer to their partners as roommates or friends.
“These enumerators may have never met, or even heard of, gays”, he added. “So, if we have the opportunity to speak with them, they will be able to better understand the LGBT community. We are a part of China’s population. “
The National Bureau of Statistics said it will not register anything outside the predefined responses for this category.
Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, but the LGBTQ+ community is still campaigning for equality in marriage.
Lauren, who lives in Shanghai, told the South China Morning Post that she stated that she lived with her girlfriend for the researcher. She did not want to use her surname because of the current climate around LGBTQ+ rights in China.
The man who did the census responses checked the box for “other” in the questionnaire and wrote “couple” next to him. Lauren said she found the interaction positive, although it was probably not included in the results.
Although Lauren said she felt comfortable talking about their relationship, she acknowledged that it may be more difficult for LGBTQ+ couples in more conservative areas.
A user of Weibo, a Chinese social platform similar to Twitter, responded to the campaign by saying, “I still wouldn’t dare.”