It is arguably the last feudal society on earth, ruled with an iron fist by a royal dictator.

Gay, lesbian and transgender people in Nepal face regular abuse, beatings and rapes at the hands of the security forces.

Now The Blue Diamond Society, surely among the bravest gay rights activists in the world, have publicly announced that they want Nepal to give them legal protection.

Negotiations begin today between representatives of Nepalese King Gyanendra and the Maoist guerrillas, who have been fighting a terrorist campaign against the totalitarian monarch.

The talks centre around a new constitution, and gay activists have seized their chance to demand recognition. A 1963 law punishes ‘unnatural sex’ ie: anything that is not vaginal penetration, with one year in prison.

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).

Blue Diamond are 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.

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.