KATHMANDU, Dec 22: Sexual minorities in Nepal have been fighting for long for equal rights. In the last decade, they achieved a lot in this regard. Their representation in state machineries, separate budget and acceptance of the category 'others' in their citizenship certificate were some of the changes they celebrated. But this community, which claims to be a million in numbers, does not rate Nepal Communist Party's rule that favorable to them.
"Our struggle for inclusive society was going at one pace. We were accepted as 'others', we were given space through reservation, the government allocated a budget for us. But we got no budget in the last fiscal year, the agenda of our representation was totally overlooked and instead of writing ‘marriage between two persons’, they wrote in the Act ‘marriage between a man and a woman’, to exclude us of the right to legally marry," said Badri Pun, a transgender and president of Inclusive Forum Nepal. "Our voice remained most suppressed under Oli's rule. He is not liberal," he added.
According to Pun, the LGBTI community was euphoric when the then president of Blue Diamond Society was picked as a parliamentarian in 2008. The first openly gay politician had drawn headlines even internationally. There were other serious agenda the community was determined to push forward in the days to come. “But things seemed like taking a backtrack over the time, although the constitution says fundamental rights should be equal for all, we have been robbed of many basic rights," Pun stated.
Pun is a long time cadre of UML. He is treasurer of Kathmandu–Myagdi Samparka Manch. However, as his citizenship identifies him as 'other', rather than a male or female, he cannot contest polls. "This situation needs to change, but we could not take our fight for equal rights any further during Oli's regime. People at the bar association and parliament all had a very narrow mindset. We felt quite left out, unheard, they have literally neglected us while framing Dewani hak (fundamental rights) last year," he maintained.
Also according to Sudip Gautam, 28, program officer of Blue Diamond Society, things have been rather disappointing for people like him in the latest years. And he too put the blame of the 'regressive attitude of the government' on Prime Minister KP Oli.
"The Acts drafted last year have not reflected the precedence set by the Supreme Court. Our community has not been included for reservations, representations. We are not going to vote for his alliance ever, it's very clear among the LGBTI community," Gautam said.
Meanwhile, advocate Meera Dhungana noted that securing human rights for everyone needs similar laws as well as indiscriminate implementation of the same. But in case of gay community, they have been deprived of equal rights by far. "It is true that their struggle and achievements were somewhat ignored in recent years," she said.
Meanwhile, Pun expressed fears that their condition could be worse in the days to come. "We have a very uncertain future ahead. We are a very vulnerable group, we have reasons to fear."