Dialogue for Change: Nepal’s stakeholders discuss SGM rights on IDAHOBIT

Dialogue for Change: Nepal’s stakeholders discuss SGM rights on IDAHOBIT

Kathmandu: The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) is celebrated across the globe every year. May 17 marks the day the World Health Organization in 1990 stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder. Since 2004, the sexual and gender minorities (SGM) of Nepal have been celebrating May 17 with various programmes.

On the occasion of the day, the National Inclusion Commission in coordination with Mayako Pahichan Nepal (MKPN), a non-profit organization advocating for SGM’s rights, organized an interaction on the human rights, inclusiveness and health issues of SGM citizens.

The Commission’s Acting Chairperson, Bishnu Maya Ojha emphasised the government’s commitment to creating an environment where SGMs can fully exercise their rights to live with respect and legal recognition.

“Sexual and gender minority communities have started feeling accepted. More awareness is required. The law is addressing them.”

On the problems of the communities, she said the Commission would make recommendations to the government regarding their problems and needs. “For that, please study and give suggestions,” she said, “We recommend the government to address their demands.”

Pushparaj Timilsina, a Commission member, highlighted the Commission’s ongoing efforts to address daily difficulties faced by SGM individuals. He referred to programmes organised previously in coordination with the communities.

Sunil Babu Pant, Asia’s first openly gay former parliamentarian of Nepal and MKPN’s Executive Director said, “Today is an important day for us. Families with SGMs are lucky.”

The interaction also focused on gender affirmation surgery (GAS) with some participants expressing concerns about potential health risks associated with GAS and hormone therapy.

Stating that it is natural to be homosexual and third gender, Madhu KC, MKPN’s Vice President, asked for more opportunities for SGM individuals to take part in policymaking, saying this would lead to better representation of their voices and needs.

Rights activist Awantika Gharti Magar talked about side effects of hormone therapy and GAS, sharing personal accounts of individuals experiencing their side effects.

On the occasion, Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey, Nepal’s first legally registered same-sex couple, expressed their joy over being recognised as same-sex couple after a six-year struggle. They also shared their experiences and the challenges they faced during the legal process.

Roshani Devi Karki, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health and Population, reaffirmed nondiscrimination in free medical services for serious illnesses provided by the government. “There is no discrimination on the basis of gender in the services provided by the government,” she said.

Also, Ram Kumar Mahato, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, highlighted ongoing efforts to prioritise and include SGMs in government programmes. “We are coordinating with the local level to address the problems of SGMs.”

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