“Our main demand is that the rights of the sexual minorities should be guaranteed in the new constitution”, said Pinky Gurung, on 30th August, when Nepal held its LGBTQ Pride Parade. Gurung is from the LGBT activism group – the Blue Diamond Society, which has had a major impact on the development of LGBT activism in Nepal, since it became a registered non-governmental organization for sexual health in 2001.
Over the last few years, Nepal has risen to become a site of political change by securing rights for minorities. The LGBT community demands provisions such as recognizing same-sex marriages as legal and allowing non-heterosexual couples to adopt children, as a part of its new constitution.
LGBT rights today
As Nepal gets ready to draft its constitution, despite their unity, there has been a lot of concern from minority communities that the constitution would divide the country into several federal states, enshrining discrimination against them and giving them insufficient autonomy. To add to that, right-wing activists are working towards identifying Nepal as a Hindu nation, which could derecognize the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Yumaist populations. As a result of these complications present in drafting of the constitution, the voice of the LGBT community has diminished and become marginalized. Nepal is definitely many steps up from its neighbouring South Asian countries, such as India and Pakistan, which have completely banned homosexuality.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Nepal in 2007, and the state allowed the option to legally identify oneself as a “third gender” – for those who did not believe they belonged to the male/female binary. The recent Pride Parade ensured that the demands of the LGBT community are actively voiced by the citizens of Nepal.
The issues faced by the LGBT community in Nepal
In spite of the government’s decision to allow making a passport with a “third gender” legal, there is an outcry by citizens claiming that very few third gender passports have been made, and that they are difficult to get. The LGBT community also faces lack of healthcare facilities, psycho-social counselling, awareness of HIV/AIDS, documentation of rights violations, legal counselling and more.
Despite the fact that only around 500 people participated in the recent Gay Pride Parade, it was an important step towards bringing minority voices to the centre stage. The parade is a symbol of hope for those who have been oppressed for years. It recognizes their presence as legitimate members of a society where non-normative sexuality has been constantly suppressed.
Photo courtesy of Blue Diamond Society.