21 Feb 2019

Stats NZ document wrongly grouped queer and takatāpui people with paedophiles

3:08 pm on 21 February 2019

Statistics NZ has apologised for its new guidance on sexual identity data collection which put queer, takatāpui and pansexual people in the same group as paedophiles.

Rainbow flag flies outside Parliament.

Rainbow flag flies outside Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Statistics NZ released a new statistical standard for sexual identity (how a person thinks about their own sexuality and the terms they identify with) on Tuesday.

In classifying sexual identity, Stats NZ will collect data under nine categories, including refusing to answer and being unsure, but allows for only three identifying words - heterosexual, homosexual (specifically gay and lesbian) or bisexual.

All other words someone may use are recorded under code 09 - sexual identity not elsewhere classified.

This means if you were to fill out a form that asked for your sexuality, and do not identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual, your answer would be recorded as 09.

Data collected for this group would not be released separately and instead would be aggregated.

The list of identities covered by the classification 09 includes common identities like asexual, pansexual, queer and takatāpui. But these sexual orientations are lumped in with "pedo" and "pedosexual", which also fall under the 09 code.

'Pedo', or 'pedosexual', are words used for someone who is a paedophile.

"Pedosexual is not a recognised sexual orientation identity at all, in any of the research anywhere. It does not count as a sexual orientation,' said Dr Lara Marie Greaves, lecturer in New Zealand politics and public policy at the University of Auckland.

She said grouping these together can be damaging for LGBTQI communities.

"The LGBTQI community has been trying to get away from those perceptions for a long time, that seems like something that people levelled at the LGBTQI community decades ago. It's one of those things we thought we are past."

Dr Greaves' research areas include survey, longitudinal and quantitative methods and sexual orientation.

In the US last year, LGBTQI communities were targeted by homophobes who ramped up targeted campaigns to associate LGBTQI communities with sexual predators.

Stats NZ said the words 'pedo' and pedosexual' came through in the public consultation feedback as possible responses to the survey questions, and they apologise for the oversight that led to including them.

'Pedo' and 'pedosexual' have since been deleted from the list of sexual identities.

'Pedo' and 'pedosexual' have since been deleted from the list of sexual identities. Photo: Screenshot / Stats NZ

"The inclusion should have been recognised as offensive and has now been removed.

"Again we apologise for any offence caused."

They said the words were included in a long list of about 70 terms.

Dr Greaves said the document still needs quite a lot of work and, in terms of measurement, the data collected is not precise.

"That category [sexual identity not elsewhere classified] has a whole bunch of different sexual orientations, legitimate ones, unlike 'pedosexual'.

"Assexual, people who don't have sexual attraction, is so fundamentally different to pansexual, which means attracted who anyone regardless of gender, that they should be represented in different categories."

She said no one uses the term homosexual anymore, which is wording also used in the document, and this speaks to Stats NZ not consulting the number of researchers and experts in the New Zealand community.

Stats NZ says new statistical standard aims to standardise concepts and definitions of sexual identity in data collection.

It would mean accurate and quality data can be provided to policy-makers seeking to address issues of importance affecting sexual minority communities, such as the high rates of suicide.

The document notes: "There is an increasing awareness among policy-makers, both internationally and nationally, that there is a need for sexual orientation statistics. In New Zealand, some sexual orientation information is available but there is no standardised approach for collecting or reporting this information."

The framework was created after more than 900 people gave feedback on the proposal during a three-week consultation period in April this year.

Over 80 percent of people agreed with the proposed framework, definitions and terminology, and question design. Many of the submitters thought there needed to be changes to the definitions as they did not fully cover the scope of sexual orientation. They wanted to see the binary language removed and the language updated to reflect modern usage - including identities that weren't present in the proposed framework.

This followed criticism over the exclusion of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in censuses.

The document was still available online yesterday following the apology from Stats NZ but has since been removed.


Takatāpui: A traditional term meaning 'intimate companion of the same sex'. It has been reclaimed to embrace all Māori who identify with diverse genders and sexualities such as whakawāhine, tangata ira tāne, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex, and transgender. (Tiwhanawhana Trust, 2015).

Pansexual: Being attracted to a person of any sex or gender.

Asexual: An asexual person is someone who lacks sexual attraction but is a spectrum that encompasses a wide range of experiences.

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