Gay rights concern for Nepal talks

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Gay rights in Nepal may become isolated as talks between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA – government) and the Maoists in Nepal continue, a local LGBT group has warned.

The Blue Diamond Society has expressed concern that gay rights will be forgotten while the country discusses more controversial issues of the future of the monarchy and arms management.

The interim constitution has not been endorsed and the date for constitutional assembly has also been lingering with the dispute between the SPA and Maoists.

With this political vacuum, in recent days the law and order situation has become one of the worst after the historic people’s democratic movement in April 2006, leaving campaigners wondering whether the protests were worth it.

The groups claims that Nepal Police seem to have nothing better to do except chasing after the most poor and marginalized sections of society like Metis (transgender) and sex workers, raiding night clubs, hotels and streets around Thamel, Kathmandu, and arresting and taking advantage of transgender and sex workers.

Last night three Metis, and few days ago about a dozen sex workers from the highways, were reportedly arrested by the Nepal Police.

Looting, kidnapping, murder cases are said to be rampant. Common Nepalis are feeling insecure as the police are not doing much to make the security situation better.

A Blue Diamond Society spokesman said: “Many of us, including homosexuals and transgender, who came out on the streets to protest against autocracy and fought for democracy, are now asking ourselves: is this the mandate we gave to our leaders to manage democracy?”

Sexual identity is complex in Nepal. There are Metis, men who see themselves as feminine, Mardanas, women who see themselves as masculine, as well as gay men and lesbians and Tesrolingis (transsexuals).

The group is demanding recognition of same-sex partnerships and property rights for transsexuals.

They also want changes to identity cards so that transgender people can be identified as a separate category.

The King has promised to hold free elections next year, and the Nepalese will be given a chance to choose between a monarchy or democracy. Gay rights groups intend to stand in those elections.

joined the opposition to the king, after he sacked the government last year, thus plunging the South Asian country into turmoil.

Protesters, including homosexuals and transgenders, put on black arm bands to campaign for the monarch to relinquish his power.

The group’s president, Sunil Babu Panta announced they had donated Nepali Rs 10,000 ($138) to support injured protesters and were happy to join the “historic democratic movement” for ousting the “autocratic” government of Gyanendra

NGOs such as the Blue Diamond Groups have previously had restricted funding and freedom from the government.

King Gyanendra dismissed the Nepalese government in February 2005 claiming they were not doing enough to end Maoist communist rebellions.

It is as yet unclear if any of the demands of the Nepalese gay, lesbian and transgender people will be granted in the new constitution.