Gay rights champion nominated to Nepalese assembly

Tony Grew May 1, 2008
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The founder of Nepal’s only LGBT rights group has been chosen as one of 601 members of a new constituent assembly in the country.

Sunit Pant, founder of Blue Diamond Society, has been named as one of five representatives of the Communist Party of Nepal-United.

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.

The assembly will draft a new constitution, decide the fate of the monarchy and govern Nepal for the next two years.

The Communist Party of Nepal-United won five seats in the assembly. The Maoists are the largest party with 220 seats.

Mr Pant is a hero to many gay activists across the world.

In July the Elton John AIDS Foundation expressed its support for the work of the Blue Diamond Society.

In a statement sent to government departments in the Himalayan country, the foundation’s executive director Robert Kay said they were proud to be associated with BDS’s work on safe sex education.

In May 2007 the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission gave its Celebration of Courage award to Mr Pant.

Last year, after campaigning by BDS for equal rights, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered that the government not just overturn discriminatory laws but pass new ones protecting the rights of gay people.

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.

“We are honoured to send Pant as our representative to the constituent assembly,” said the Communist Party of Nepal-United’s Ganesh Shah.

“We hope it will improve the lives of a people who are the most repressed in Nepal, disowned both by society and their own families.”

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