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IDAHOT Report 2014: Nepal

Nepal

In Nepal, actions around the IDAHOT 2014 over various days. Highlights included a press conference announcing the IDAHOT 2014 programme ahead, a rainbow flag-raising and speeches at the British High Commission, and a gala event – all in Kathmandu. The gala event featured dance and music performances, by participants from 5 regions of Nepal, as well as “Catwalk To Freedom” (an activism/theatre piece, focused on Third Gender oppression and liberation). A film screening, speeches, theatre, a legal consultation, and other events were organised throughout the week.

The series of events was also marked by high-level participation, as several dignitaries including representatives from National Human Rights Commission, the Norwegian Embassy, UNAIDS, and Pinky Gurung, BDS’s current President wished courage to all LGBTI communities and expressed their solidarity for IDAHOT.

Significantly, a letter was also sent by the Gay and Lesbian Sexual Minority Network of Nepal, to the Prime Minister of Nepal requesting official recognition of May 17.

Local organisers shared the following report with us, which is now reproduced here in full:

We are so happy and excited to share you the IDAHOT Nepal National Report.

LGBTI people, alongside allies and friends, in Nepal marked/celebrated IDAHOT this year in an extended and elaborated three days of events nationwide.

On the 15th of May Blue Diamond Society organized a “meet the press” event, inviting media representatives at the Reporters Club in Kathmandu for an interaction program with activists. The program very interesting, various LGBTI representatives spoke of LGBTI rights, the need for LGBTI representatives to be included in the Constituent Assembly (CA), and reiterated long-held demands that Nepal’s new constitution ensures human rights for LGBTI people. Activists also asked government to allocate budget to LGBTI community support projects, and ensure equal access to education and equal opportunities for employment.

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Press conference announcing IDAHOT 2014 events in Nepal. Courtesy of Blue Diamond Society

At least 7 national TV channels broadcasted the events and various radio and print media covered the news of that meet the press event – the kick-off for the broader IDAHOT events around the country.

On the morning of May 16th, the British High Commission in Kathmandu invited LGBTI representatives from various organizations, raised a rainbow flag on the premises, and DCM Guy Harrison spoke about British government’s commitment to support LGBTI rights. Former CA member and founder of BDS Sunil Babu Pant spoke highlighting the importance of IDAHOT, and thanked British government for their support while asking them to do more to protect LGBTI rights in Nepal.

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British High Commission in Kathmandu flying the flag on IDAHOT 2014. Courtesy of Blue Diamond Society

Later in the afternoon, Blue Diamond Society organized a gala event at the National Theater in the center if Kathmandu, inviting various families, communities, media, other civil society groups.

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Gala event for IDAHOT 2014 in Nepal. Source: Courtesy of Blue Diamond Society

The event featured cultural dances, usually traditionally performed by metis/third genders (male born TGs),  and the “Catwalk To Freedom” — a ramp show featuring various third gender models, with unique educational structure and concept: First, TG models cat-walked onto the ramp, one by one, as if they were caged, chained, masked, hands and legs tied, hand cuffed, mouth taped symbolically show they were denied mobility and expression, and forced to remain in the closet while facing a lot of violence. One by one, while walking in the ramp, the models broke themselves from the cage, tearing off the chains, pulling the tape off their mouths, breaking of the hand cuffs, etc., and trying to encourage others too.

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“Catwalk for Freedom” in Kathmandu, Nepal. IDAHOT 2014. Courtesy of Blue Diamond Society.

“Be Change”, documentary related to Lesbian love, was also screened. Nilu Doma, documentary maker, shared her experience regarding “ Be Change” and importance of love regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTI groups from all 5 development regions of Nepal brought their ethnic dance performances. A musical performances showing very vivid experience of LGBTI facing stigma and discrimination, audience were touched by the performances.

Then a play was staged by Silpi Theater Troupe, portraying how in-laws to-be refuse to marry a girl because they discovered her brother was third gender, then the third gender was excluded from her home by her parents, end up leaving the village. She (the third gender) faced discrimination while traveling by bus to Kathmandu, could not find room to rent, could not find job, ended up working in dance bar with low pay and abusive owner, and joined a college only face bullying from classmates – a fairly typical story of a TG facing discrimination and exclusion in day to day life in Nepal. As Nepal has progressed some legal rights and community empowerment, the TG character was able to find peers and organizations to support her. She is empowered and not just settled in harsh city like Kathmandu but also become compassionate to help others in need. Overall it was a powerful performance with positive messages about support and inclusion and hope for the future.

Sunil Babu Pant gave a inspirational and encouraging speech, asking every one to remain united and work hard. He talked about the unfair comparison many may do out of ignorance between the two completely different kinds of success: one can be easily successful to destroy something in a short time without skills, qualification and hard work, but to be successful to create something beneficial to mankind and build a movement and sustain is very different and need a lot of hands, minds and hearts to work together. Pant also invited a mother, Saru Bisht, to the stage, honored her for her support and fight against all odds to give her two third gender children the citizenship ID cards according to their gender identity and asked all parents to see her as a role model.

Several dignitaries including representatives from National Human Rights Commission, the Norwegian Embassy, UNAIDS, and Pinky Gurung, BDS’s current President wished courage to all LGBTI communities and expressed their solidarity for IDAHOT.

On day 3, BDS held an informal Interaction program among LGBTI members — many new members joined the events, shared their experiences and stories of coming out as well as the ugly, the bad, the OK, the good, and the extra-ordinarily happy  experience of living as an LGBTI person in contemporary Nepali society, followed by food and a dance party.

In 23rd and 24th May, BDS coordinated a consultation with 50+ supreme court lawyers on “the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Pant v. Nepal, the new Constitution, the proposed draft civil and criminal code (the proposed civil and criminal coed is dangerously regressive and needs urgent intervention), LGBTI communities needs with regards to legal counselling/litigation and Nepal Bar Association’s role to safeguard LGBTI rights and legal support to LGBTI people.

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Civil code consultation for IDAHOT 2014, Nepal. Courtesy of Blue Diamond Society

After the consultation Nepal Bar association expressed their commitment to support LGBTI cause and offered free legal services to Blue Diamond Society and LGBTI members anywhere in Nepal. They also expressed their concern over the proposed draft civil and criminal code which are unbelievably regressive and suggesting to criminalize sexual identities and behaviors which would render LGBTI people criminals — the NBA said this was “unacceptable”.

Letter to the Government of Nepal, requesting official recognition of May 17

Government of Nepal,
Prime Minister as well as
Minister of Social Welfare council
Mr.Sushil Koirala,

Sub:Requesting to proclaim IDAHOBT Day as a public holiday

Dear Prime Minister,
As Nepal’s interim constitution 2063, in the Section 3 there is fundamental rights of the citizens and in the Section 4 there is responsibility of the state as well as management of the principles of polity.As we, the sexual and gender minorities are also citizens of this country, we have rights to utilize and claim all fundamental as well as human rights. However,we,the sexual and gender minorities, have been suffering from various kinds of discrimination in our home, society, neighbors and even from government itself. To eradicate all types of these discrimination, globally the international organizations and associations like International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and International Lesbian and Gay Association(ILGA) are standing together and making their local level NGOs and INGOs active to overcome all sorts of discrimination and violence against sexual minority communities and empower them with all human rights and their security.With regards to it,an international committee IDAHO,formed and this committee has been observing International Day Against Homophobia to mark the discrimination and violence against homosexuals, bisexual, transsexual on 17th May every year. Tally this day with our Nepali Bikram Sambat era, we would like to request to you to declare this day public holiday in Nepal too. So that we can make people aware of LGBTTI community and change their opinions about them through this day. We are presenting this letter to you including some problems and issues of this community.

Dear Prime minister, only a few member of our sexual and gender minorities whom can be counted on our finger tips have received citizenship cards in the name of ‘Thirdsex’ or ‘Othersex’ which were issued by Government of Nepal on saying to do so by some non-government organization. However, member of our community are not satisfied with it. They take it as the government itself is discriminating on them by using such offensive words like ‘thirdsex’ ‘thirdgender’ ‘othersex’. Similarly, these are some NGOs in the country which propose a lot of tempting activities in the name of doing welfare of this community just to attract the foreign donor agents. Embezzle the amount that they received as foreign aids, they do nothing towards the welfare of this community. Thus, few people are turning affluent overnight. So the government of Nepal should pay attention and case towards the activities of NGOs and take legal actions against those found guilty. Have a detailed study about this community before issuing citizenship cards to its members because we are neither any thirdgender nor any third-nature dramatical persons, we are naturally normal persons.

We would also like to put forward some of our demands, they are as follows:-
1. Identity cards should be issued based on sex-orientation of an individual.
2. Legalize the Same-Sex marriage.
3. Mention sexual minorities in the new building up constitution.
4. The final verdict of the Supreme Court made in the year 2064(B.S) should be made to follow strictly.
5. Proclaim IDAHOBT Day as a public holiday.

For your information, we would like to tell you something about the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and transphobia(IDAHOBT). This day aims to co-ordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBTTI rights work worldwide. The date of May 17 was chose to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the international classification of diseases of The World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990.
Requesting you to grant the 17th May as Public Holiday in Nepal. We have prepared this letter representing more then 3 lakh Nepalese sexual minorities. At last, hearing our demands and putting them into practice, give justice to all victimized Nepalese sexual and gender minorities.
Thank you.
Yours,
Binod Lama
Chairperson
Gay and Lesbian Sexual Minority Network Nepal

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