The “nonsensical” census

The 2022 census, which kicked off at the start of February, is said to be the most important to be undertaken since the end of apartheid. It comes against a backdrop of state capture, a pivotal change in politics and leadership, soaring cases of gender-based violence and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the fourth census South Africa has run since apartheid ended; the last was in 2011.

But the LGBTQI+ community has raised concerns that the survey conflates gender and sex, and fails to include intersex people or questions related to sexual orientation. Intersex people have any of a number of sex characteristics and so, says the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies”. “Sex” refers to an individual’s biology, while “gender”, a social construct, refers to how an individual identifies. Activists argue that the exclusionary nature of the survey means the data will be inaccurate, and the needs of this community will not be met. There have been calls to amend the survey, but Stats SA has said it is drawn up using UN guidelines. 🤷

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 4 March  2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.