“We’re a part of the Chinese language individuals”: LGBT {couples} search recognition within the census

(Reuters) – A month after Lauren found the courage to tell her mother she was a lesbian, the 26-year-old Shanghai resident came out to see a stranger knocking on her door.

She told the young man, one of 7 million who took China’s census once in a decade, that she and her friend lived together.

While the questionnaire asked about “Relationship with Head of Household”, the man ticked the box for “Other” and wrote “Couple”.

Interaction with the receptive census taker was positive, Lauren told Reuters, although the handwritten note may not be reflected in the final results. Lauren asked to be identified by her first name only as LGBT issues are sensitive in China.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, but activists are still fighting to legalize same-sex marriage.

As the world’s most populous country tries to capture demographic change, some LGBT couples are looking for recognition in the census.

Information gathering officially began on November 1st with preliminary polls in the weeks before.

The National Bureau of Statistics told Reuters that it would not collect any additional information beyond the predefined responses for the “Relationship with Head of Household” category.

Shortly after that mid-October census visit, Lauren saw same-sex couples on her social feed posters telling the census takers, “You are not my roommate, you are my partner.”

Peng Yanzi, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, the NGO behind the campaign, hopes same-sex couples can be seen in the eyes of their neighbors and the government alike.

“These census takers may have never met or even heard of gay people, so if we have the opportunity to talk to them, they can better understand the LGBT community,” he said.

“We are part of the Chinese people.”

While it remains difficult to get out of China, where many LGBT people refer to their romantic partners as roommates or friends, activists say acceptance of gay couples is growing.

“But the system has not kept up with the times,” said Peng.

Lauren, who works for a technology company in Shanghai, said she felt comfortable speaking honestly about their relationship, but worried that it might not be as safe for LGBT couples in more conservative areas.

“I still wouldn’t dare,” commented a Twitter-like Weibo (NASDAQ 🙂 user on a post about the campaign.

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