The Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s leading LGBT rights organisation, have issued a statement condemning “a biased and malicious” news report about their activities, which was screened on a national television station this week.
Sagarmatha TV’s Khoj Khabar programme – which is described as an “investigative journalism” show – allegedly accused BDS of corruption and fraud, claiming, among other things, that the group’s leaders were corrupt and dishonest about their annual budget.
They also claimed the group did little to serve the country’s LGBT community.
In the statement, BDS said: “[Sagarmatha claimed we have] an annual budget of 32 crore rupees. Our actual budget is about Rs. 8 crores.
“They [also] claimed that BDS leadership have engaged in corruption and lined their pockets. They offered no proof whatsoever to support these baseless accusations. They claimed BDS does very little for the sexual and gender minority community.
“In fact, we have 38 registered CBOs, 53 offices and about 750 staff all over the country serving the community (more than 400,000 LGBTI have been contacted across the country including 5,000 and more people living with HIV) with a whole range of services including advocacy, legal assistance, HIV care, counselling and treatment, prevention and the operation of a hospice center.”
The programme also outed three BDS members to their families and media. According to BDS, these three people have now been forced to go underground after coming under “tremendous stress and pressure from their family members.”
BDS said they suspected that the Sagarmatha TV journalists responsible for the programme were homophobic: “the damaging piece they made has the goal of extorting BDS and its affiliated organisations for monetary gain.
“BDS is proud to announce that it will not bend to such brazen thuggery and condemns the TV channels despicable behavior in the strongest possible way.”
The body said they would be lodging protests with the National Press Council, the National Human Rights Commission, UN agencies, and international human rights organisations.
They added: “We urge all human rights defenders and fair-minded individuals to support us in this attempt to expose the yellow journalism practiced by Sagarmatha TV.”
The Blue Diamond Society was set up by Sunil Baba Pant. Back in 2007, based on Mr Pant’s petition, the Nepal Supreme Court in a landmark judgement ordered the government to frame equal laws for LGBT citizens. As a result, Nepal will soon become the first country in Asia to give equal rights to its LGBT population, which means citizenship IDs for trans persons and legal recognition for marriage between same-sex couples.
BDS have also organised Nepal’s – and indeed Asia’s – first national LGBT games.
Covering a two-week period, the games will showcase LGBT athletes competing in sports such as volleyball, football, athletics, martial arts, tennis and more.