Hundreds of gay right activists and sexual minorities wearing colourful outfits and makeups paraded in Kathmandu on Friday demanding equal status and implementation of their rights enshrined in Nepal’s new Constitution. Almost 1,500 gays and lesbians took part in the rally organised to draw public attention towards the rights and welfare of the people belonging to sexual minorities.
Although the Nepalese Constitution guarantees equal rights and welfare of the LGBT community (Lesbians, Gay, Bio-sexual, Trans-sexual) they are still facing social discrimination due to the traditional thinking of majority of the people.
The participating members said they still do not have equal rights despite a constitutional guarantee against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. “Implement our rights guaranteed by the constitution and do not deprive us from our rights,” were the slogans on the banners carried by the activists.
Some prominent diplomats including US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz were among the distinguished people, who witnessed the parade and showed their support, according to eye-witnesses. The Blue Diamond Society, an organisation dedicated to protecting the rights and welfare of the sexual minority has been organising the parade annually on the day of Gaijatra also known as “Cow festival”.
During the festival, people wearing colourful dress put make up pretending as cows and parade across the city as part of the Hindu tradition that is believed to help liberate the soul of those who died during the year. Nepal had recognised a third gender as early as in 2007 when the Supreme Court ordered the government to scrap all laws that discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
This year, it also issued passports with “other” as the choice for those who do not wish to be identified as male or female. However, activists say they face many difficulties in obtaining these passports.