For people visiting Nepal, finding and supporting gay-owned businesses can be a bit of a challenge.

That may soon change, however, if more businesses follow in the groundbreaking footsteps of The Cutey Beauty Salon, which recently opened in Kathmandu’s Lazimpat area.

According to a report from the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), the salon is run by gay and transgender people and was inaugurated by Kikkan Haugen, deputy head of mission of the Norwegian embassy.

The project was funded by the Oslo-based Norwegian National Association of Lesbian and Gay Liberation and Sigrid Rausing Trust in London.

The salon, which is running with the support of the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s only gay rights group, offers a fairly typical array of beauty services, including haircuts, facials, manicures and pedicures, but it also acts as a training academy for members of the gay community who want to become beauticians.

“Up to now, nothing has been done to support transgenders and the sexual minorities, who are the most marginalised, poor and socially excluded in Nepal,” Sunil Pant, head of the Blue Diamond Society, told the IANS.

“The salon is an opportunity for them to lead self-supporting and dignified lives so that they can make a living and contribute to the larger society. This is a first of its kind in Nepal.”

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