September 16, 2020
A National LGBTI Census:
Advocates of LGBTI rights in Nepal have recently started asking for a census on the LGBTI community from the government. The previous census conducted was over 10 years ago. The survey recorded 4,000 people in the country as LGBTI. However, Pahichan, a local LGBTI publication, estimates the numbers to be more than 500,000. The Government of Nepal has now shown interest in conducting an LGBTI community census. But, activists are suggesting that this survey be conducted in a sensitive manner with the assistance of non-governmental LGBT groups to help the community partake in this research.
Until this year, about 1,500 individuals from the LGBTI community have changed their gender on official documents in Nepal. According to Pahichan, 1,300 people opted for the option Other (O) when it came to their gender.
Celebrating Nepal’s First Pride Parade:
On the 29th of June, this year, Nepal celebrated its first Pride Parade in Kathmandu. Hundreds of individuals took to the streets to show their support for this pro-pride celebration. While local news reports that the country has been celebrating LGBTI with parades and marches since 2002, hosting one during the pride month was a first for its people. LGBTI activists in Nepal were keen on hosting such a pride parade with the intention of increasing LGBTI visibility around the country.
The Kathmandu pride parade was organised by Queer Youth Group (QYG), Queer Rights Collective and other groups from the local community who assisted in raising funds. Rukshana Kapali from QYG told Himalayan Times that hosting a parade during pride month creates a separate platform for individuals to celebrate their gender identity as well as sexuality.
Usually, the country’s annual pride march is held during the festival of Gaijatra. And, is organised by the Blue Diamond Society. What is Gaijatra? A celebration commemorating the lives of those who recently passed away wherein families dress-up extravagantly in different colourful costumes, and partake in parades.
One of the most progressive countries in the World?
Well, in the early 2000s, Nepal became a beacon for LGBTQIA rights around the world by decriminalising homosexuality in 2007. By 2011, the country was the first in the world to include a third gender on its government census. And by 2015, the country had provided three gender options for its passports. In the same year, it was one among 10 countries worldwide to have laws in the constitution that protected the LGBTI community. Through these initiatives, the country has focused on providing equality to its sexual minorities.
However, over a decade later, the country’s reputation seems to be more theoretical. The LGBTI community still struggles and is confronting problems when it comes to things such as jobs and school. Also, the country has not yet legalised same-sex marriage. And, the new Civil Code Act that came into effect last August makes it difficult to achieve the same.
According to the Act, same-sex marriage is not a criminal act. It defines marriage as two individuals of the opposite sex, over the age of 20, accepting each other as husband and wife. Additionally, the Act has other discriminatory issues. Which also includes the case of a son or daughter being entitled to inheritance (but not a third gender). Kapali from QYG said,
“There has always been a romanticization of Nepal as being one of the more tolerant countries in Asia; however, the ground reality is very different”
– As reported by Gay Star News
Existing Rights for the LGBTI:
In an interview with O.M.G Nepal, Ms. Pinky Gurung, president of Blue Diamond Society, recollects the rights that are available to the LGBTI community. The country’s constitution provides rights in 3 of its clause:
- Clause 12 states ‘The right to have citizenship with the gender they are identified with.’
- Clause 18 establishes the ‘Prohibition from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by the state or by anyone’.
- And Clause 42 also includes Right to Social Justice and protection.
Kyle Night from Human Rights Watch said,
“The amount of progress Nepal has experienced… is enormous, and yet implementation of the various pledges from government entities over the years continues to lag,”
-As reported by Voice of America News
Nepal’s Education Board is the second in Asia to have gender and sexual orientation studies with reference to LGBTI, available in the syllabus from class 6 to class 9. However, due to discrimination in the form of bullying, mean comments, etc. made by teachers and students, the literacy rate of LGBTI people is low. However progressive the laws may be in the country, it is the mindset of its people that is becoming a huge concern for the community.
In the interview with OMG Nepal, Ms. Gurung said,
“I would like to say is that LGBT are also a part of our society. No nation can develop by dominating the minority. Even the minority can make a great impact and our nation should realize this fact. Discrimination, elimination and discard of minority population will result in the loss of the country. So communal confirmation must be in the field of class, religion and sex.”
Want to read more? Trichy School dedicates a hostel for their transgender students
Source Credit: Gay Star News, Human Rights Watch, Nepali Times, OMG Nepal, Pink News, Voice of America News.