New Zealand may include intersex option on census

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Dunedin city councillors have backed adding an intersex option to the next New Zealand census.

At present, the census only has the options “male” and “female”.

Councillor Aaron Hawkins made the suggestion yesterday, after Statistics New Zealand called for local governments to make suggestions for new additions to the upcoming 2018 census.

He was backed by the majority of his colleagues in the South Island city.

Mr Hawkins suggested that it be used by people who are neither male or female, or who are transitioning. Intersex, however, is used to describe people with both male and female physical characteristics from birth, and not transgender people.

He was concerned that trans and non binary people do not currently have an option to tick on the census.

Councillor Richard Thomson expressed approval of the idea in theory, but questioned the use of the question – whether it was a matter of curiosity, or would have real-world applications.

The motion to present the idea to the census organisation was carried, with only one councillor voting against.

Other new questions proposed include those about education and ethnicity.

In the UK, it is being debated whether to include a question on sexuality in the upcoming 2021 census, which has not been asked for before.