Parsu Ram Rai/Pahichan – In 2001, the Blue Diamond Society was founded in Nepal as an LGBTI rights organization in Nepal. Its aim was to advocate to change the existing laws against homosexuality and to advocate for the rights of Nepal’s marginalized gay, transgender and other sexual minority communities.
Working for sexual minorities in a conservative country like Nepal which still disapproves sexual behaviour other than heterosexual and therefore people like us was extremely challenging. The first challenge was registration as an NGO for sexual minorities since the constitution doesn’t recognize sexual minorities. Therefore, the BDS was registered as a sexual health programme.
The BDS works in Kathmandu with local communities and on a national level with the mission to improve the sexual health, human rights and well-being of sexual and gender minorities in Nepal including third-genders, lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, and other men who have sex with men.
After the BDS filed a complaint, the Nepalese Supreme Court 2007 verdict – ordering the state to repeal its discriminating legislation – became a milestone for the LGBTI community of Nepal in the their freedom of movement. The trend of inclusiveness started taking part in Nepal and many community people got affiliated to political parties. A Student Forum was established in 2009. Sunil Babu Pant, the founder of the Blue Diamond Society, became the first MP of Nepal who was openly gay. The community members started taking part in different forum and in trade unions and took part in mass rallies on May Day (Labour Day). This process caused greater LGBTI visibility, not only in Kathmandu but also in wider areas of the country.
However, after several years the initial interest and and awareness decreased and it seemed that there would be no follow-up on Sunil Babu’s work. All that in spite of the recent change in the Nepalese Constitution (2015), enshrining LGBTI rights and effectively recommending the legalisation of same-sex marriages. Now in 2016, there have been some changes and people are slowly accepting LGBTI community people in different forms and practices.
Parsu Ram Rai is one of the coordinating members of the Blue Diamond Society. In this workshop, he will give insight into how LGBTI are struggling to be visible and not ignored in the work force and into the role of the BDS in coordinating the issues.