First LGBT Community Center Opens in Nepal
September 16, 2013 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
The Himalayan nation of Nepal opened its first LGBT community center last week. Nepal legalized same-sex sexual activity in 2007, and its Supreme Court in 2008 approved of a same-sex marriage act and directed the government to formulate the necessary laws. Because Nepal currently does not have a parliament and is in the process of drafting a new constitution, the bill has been waylaid.
Built with financial assistance from the Nepalese government, Norwegian government, Danish Embassy, US Embassy, and contributions from community members from in and outside the country, the center was inaugurated on September 9 in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, by the Norwegian Ambassador to Nepal Alf Arne Ramslien, Australian Ambassador to Nepal Glenn White, UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr. Ruben F. del Prado, and U.S. Embassy Cultural Affairs Officer Marissa Polnerow. The five-storied center will also house the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s premier LGBT rights organization, which was established in 2001 and has been working for rights of sexual minorities across Nepal. The BDS was not allowed to renew their organization registration status earlier this year by a hostile government, until Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, intervened.
Sunil Babu Pant, the former director of the BDS, said that this "will not just be a concrete structure but a true home for the community, a safe space where they can be comfortable and not have to worry about being judged and harassed." The BDS will be investing in arts, sciences and cultural activities.
A monarchy till 2008, Nepal has the highest percentage of Hindu citizens in the world, but has a more tolerant and less fundamentalist viewpoint with respect to LGBT rights in comparison to India, its much larger neighbor in the south.