The Prime Minister of Nepal has instructed his country’s UN Ambassador to support an oral statement on the universal rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The statement will be read out at the UN General Assembly next week.

Sunil Pant, a gay righs activist and Nepalese MP, said he was proud that his country is “taking a lead to advance LGBT rights internationally.”

Nepal joins more than 50 countries that are supporting the statement, originally proposed by France and backed by all other EU member states.

The statement “reaffirms the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1, which proclaims that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

It condemns homophobic and transphobic violence and “urges States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.”

More than 90 countries criminalise same-sex relationships. In nine states or provinces of states gays and sometimes lesbians face the death penalty.

Mr Pant, founder of Blue Diamond Society, was named in May as one of five representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal-United in the 601 member new constituent assembly.

The Maoists are the largest party with 220 seats.

Maoist insurgents, who fought a ten-year guerrilla war against monarchist forces at a cost of over 12,000 lives, finally signed a peace agreement with the new democratic government in November 2006.

LGBT people joined the Maoist rebels and others to protest in a democracy movement against the king, demanding a freely elected, secular government.

King Gyanendra eventually relinquished sovereign power to the civilian government and elections were finally held for a new assembly on 10th April.

Gays and lesbians in the Himalayan kingdom previously suffered persistent persecution from security forces during the absolutist rule of King Gyanendra. The harassment of lesbian, gay and trans people continued at the hands of Maoist rebels.

Nepal’s Supreme Court recently ruled that all LGBTIs are defined as a “natural person” and their physical growth as well as sexual orientation, gender identity, expression are all part of natural growing process. Thus equal rights, identity and expression must be ensured regardless of their sex at birth.

The writ petition was filed by Blue Diamond Society and other 3 LGBTI organisations in Nepal demanding the protection and defence of the equal rights of sexual and gender minorities.