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Counting Queers

Brazil’s statistics agency is refusing to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in its census, perpetuating the exclusion of queer people from official figures. That's no accident: the lack of national data makes it extremely difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community to fight for their rights.

LONDON – “What is your sexual orientation?” In Brazil, where queer people have historically been ignored and excluded from official statistics, this question holds special significance for the LGBTQ+ community.

Brazil recently took a small step toward positive change when the country’s national statistics agency, IBGE, published its latest National Health Survey, which for the first time included questions about sexual orientation. According to the survey, based on data collected in 2019, around 2.9 million Brazilians identify as homosexual or bisexual. (The multiple-choice questionnaire was limited to four options – heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or “don’t know” – thus omitting transgender and nonbinary identities).

Despite this encouraging development, the IBGE still refuses to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in Brazil’s national census. In June, a federal court rejected an effort by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to force the agency to incorporate these questions.