Third gender barred from contesting poll

Published On: May 5, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Anjali Subedi

KATHMANDU, May 5: Badri Pun has been barred from contesting the local-level elections because of the gender identity in his citizenship certificate. CPN - UML, the party he is associated with, offered him  nomination for vice chairperson of  Annapurna rural municipality, his hometown, in Myagdi district, but he was prevented from filing the nomination as he was not able to produce 'a citizenship like others'. Pun, a 40-year-old female - to - male transgender  (original name - Dilu Budija), holds his citizenship under a 'third gender' identity. 

“The district election officer told me that my citizenship does not help. He told me that I am neither  male nor  female, so he cannot allow me to contest even though my party has recommended me,” said Pun. 

According to Pun, he wanted to contest the post of chairperson. However the party "demanded Rs 2.5 million for that ticket, a sum which I could not afford". So the party asked him to settle for vice chairperson. “Let alone Rs 2.5 million, I would not have been able to give even Rs 2,500. So I went with the other option,” he stated. 

On 17 April, CPN - UML provided him a party ticket for the nomination. On 21 April, he went to the election office where  Kedar Acharya, a section officer, rejected his nomination. Following this, he tried hard to contact senior party leaders including Madhav Kumar Nepal, but to no avail, reports Pun.  The matter was also discussed with Thama Maya Thapa, a party politbureau member, but she could not help. 

Talking to Republica, Section Officer Acharya said Pun's nomination could not be accepted due to the rules of the election commission. Since the CPN-UML had nominated a male for the post of chairperson, the nominee for vice chairperson needed to be female, which Pun was not. “How could I accept the nomination of  a third gender when this is not allowed by the legal provisions? He should have taken this up with his own party,” Acharya said. 

"I will not remain silent," Pun further said. "Moreover, in Kathmandu, Bidhya Sundar Shakya and Rajaram Shrestha have been nominated for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor respectively. Now, has not the election commission's provision on gender been breached? Both of them are males!" he fumed. 

Former attorney general Hari Phuyal, however, terms the denial of nomination as illegal. On one hand, the party has nominated him and, on the other, his name in the citizenship matches that of a female. So, it was illegal to deny the nomination to Pun, Phuyal said.

“If the name in the citizenship certificate had been Badri Pun, the section officer might just have been right. However, the name  is 'Dilu Budija'. In such a case, being identified as third gender cannot be a basis for  denying  nomination,” he added.

After consultations with  legal experts, Pun is all set to go to Pokhara High Court, he informed. Pun, who is also secretary of UML's Myagdi - Kathmandu Samparka Manch, had contested the CA elections under the PR list. 

Ram Prasad Sharma, returning officer for Annapura Rural Municipality, stated meanwhile that  the matter could have been sorted out if Pun had brought it up on time. Now it was too late. 

“Whatever  the issue, it could probably have been solved if the party had intervened on time. But now the nomination date is already over,” Sharma added. 

Similarly, Pradip Gyawali, UML secretary,  expressed sadness over the matter. He stated that the party has always been for the rights of gender minorities and this matter could perhaps have been fixed. “I came to know about it when it was already too late. We are always for equal dignity for gender minorities,” he stated. 

There are 143 people in the voters list who identify themselves as third gender. 

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