The Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first gay rights organisation, will receive an international award for human rights today.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission will present them with the Felipa de Souza Award for 2007 at a ceremony in New York.

In recent years the Blue Diamond Society (BDS) has reported many cases of harassment and abuse of LGBT people.

Although Nepal has no laws that criminalise homosexuality, an unnatural sexual act is punishable up to one year in prison and/or a fine, but the law does not define an unnatural sexual act.

There is no open gay life in Nepal.

Gay men are mostly either forced into marriage by their families, or left with no choice but to leave the country.

Paula Ettelbrick, the Executive Director of IGLHRC said: “The Blue Diamond Society is one of the most effective human rights groups in the world.

“What they have been able to do in such a short time to build visibility and effective action around LGBT issues in Nepal and international renown among their global peers is nothing short of astounding.

“It is truly our honour to continue to work with them and to honour all they have done to promote human rights for everyone, everywhere – not just in Nepal.”

In January 2007, Dev Gurung, a Maoist leader who is the Minister for Local Development in Nepal, said:

“Homosexuality is a product of capitalism. Under socialism this kind of problem does not exist.”

In March 2007, the new Minister for Infrastructure, Gisila Yami, told a gathering organised by BDS that Maoists “don’t punish homosexuals, but we also don’t encourage homosexual behaviour.”

Her comments came a few days after Maoist militias held two women on suspicion of being lesbians.

The women were taken to a military camp, interrogated for six hours and finally released without an explanation.

Sunil Plant, the founder and director of the Blue Diamond Society, said: “We are currently working hard to enshrine equality, non-discrimination, freedom and security in Nepal’s new constitution.

“The challenge for us is that major political parties don’t take our issues seriously and this means we have to work hard to convince them.

“Funding is another major challenge as we don’t receive any support from the government and it is difficult to find donors who are willing to support LGBT rights work.”

At the beginning of January 2007, for the first time in Nepal, a conference was organised by BDS to discuss the constitutional rights of sexual minorities.

In February 2007, the Nepalese authorities legally recognised transgender identity by issuing the first citizenship ID for a transgender person.

BDS will host the first Kathmandu International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Film Festival in mid-May at the capital’s City Hall, screening fourteen international movies.