LGBT community wants its data captured during census

Friday July 22 2022

Rwanda has committed to instrument protecting the rights of LGBT community. Photo: Cyril Ndegeya


Members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and civil society have petitioned the government to collect data on sexual and gender minorities in the national census.

Members of the community said data collection institutions like the Institute of Statistics should include a few questions about LGBT and gender minorities such that their unique challenges and realities are captured in national data.

“We are largely left out in national data, yet our unique challenges cannot be represented by other groups or the general demographic clusters, yet the problems we face keep getting worse with no solution whatsoever '' said Mailley Gasaro, from Rwanda Gender Pride, an LGBT organisation.

Ms Gasaro said problems like mental health among the LGBT community, failure to access sexual reproductive health services and life saving treatments like ARV’s for HIV positive members has caused a lot of damage to many.

Although the government has in the past acknowledged that members of the LGBT community face discrimination in hospitals when they go for treatment and other related sexual reproductive health service, lack of concrete data around these problems make the
matters worse.

The government decriminalised homosexuality and outlawed all forms of discrimination, but the community continues to face silent stigma, discrimination, and violence, which are attributed to culture diversity.


Jobs lost

Some LGBT members were kicked out of houses while others lost jobs during Covid-19 never to got them back even when businesses recovered, as some homophobic employers used it as an opportunity to get rid of them.

Although all the different clusters of the population face mental health problems, suicide cases among members of the LBGT arising from severe mental health illnesses have risen significantly in the last two years.

“There is a clearly established need for data to address inequalities facing sexual minorities in Rwanda, demand for such data is particularly relevant to healthcare providers, the gender monitoring office, social protection and justice service providers” said Nzovu Job, director of Human Rights First Rwanda, one of the civil society organisations in Rwanda.

He said without robust data on the size of the LGBT population at a national and local level, decision-makers largely operate without data.

“It is therefore important that the National Institute of Statistics should conduct surveys/censuses which are inclusive and factor the LGBT community which can help agencies address inequalities faced by the community”

Members of the LGBT community in the country face the most discrimination from religious sects. A report by Health Development Initiative (HDI) revealed that a big number of them also face discrimination when accessing healthcare and social services.

The report, which sampled 499 members of the LGBT community, spread out in six districts, revealed that up to 47 percent face discrimination while trying to access health care services.