Alan Duncan, the UK’s MP for International Development, is to arrive Nepal today for a two-day visit. Mr Duncan will visit the Eastern Development Region of the country to inspect the progress of the UK-funded projects. Nepal’s only openly gay MP, Sunil Babu Pant, has welcomed the visit.

Mr Pant said that he was “thrilled” that Mr Duncan had chosen to make Nepal the destination of his first overseas visit in his role as an MP. He added: “We hope [that] under [Mr Duncan's] leadership, DFID will be able to reach out further to minorities and the marginalised. . . and make a positive impact on the livelihoods of such people around the world.”

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Nepal in 2007 when the Supreme Court declared that the new democratic government must create fresh laws to protect LGBT rights. However, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, whose chairman Pushpa Kamal Dhal will meet with Mr Duncan, is known to have issued homophobic statements, describing homosexuality as “a product of capitalism”.

Mr Pant is the president of the country’s human rights organisation, the Blue Diamond Society (BDS). He said: “The DFID has long been a supporter to the Blue Diamond Society and we take [Mr Duncan's] visit to Nepal, his first overseas visit, as a strong commitment to support sexual, gender and minority rights around the world.”

Despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the BDS has said that Nepalese LGBT people still suffer disproportionately from blackmail, death-threats, rape and violence.