BDS struggle for sexual and gender minorities in Nepal.
Blue Diamond, which denotes the compassion in the Russian lexicon, later derived to Nepali landscape by Mr Sunil Babu Pant as Blue Diamond Society Nepal, while he was studying in Ukraine, represent the sexual and gender minorities or popularly known as LGBT in Nepal. Established in 2001 AD under the Social Welfare Act of Nepal with the aim of promoting reproductive health and human rights of the LGBT community in Nepal, it now enters into its 10th years and emerging as one of the most vibrant human rights activist organization in South Asian Society. Now the organization spans across 5 development regions and 40 cities in Nepal. Marginalized and remained as a hidden population from centuries long, the platform that the Blue Diamond Society, encourage the community members to be organized with the common vision of building the just society that respect pluralism in every aspects including gender and sexual orientation of any individual.
Bearing vision in the mind, the sexual and gender minorities’ communities have been constantly campaigning their rights peacefully in the Nepalese society which primarily dominated by the Hinduism culture that has little room for diversity of caste, class, gender and the sexual orientation. But, there is ray of hope in this land as other sections of marginalized groups like women, untouchable groups, madhesis, ethnics groups are simultaneously crusading against the monolithic values and culture.
Sexual and gender minorities groups with the other marginalized groups were also participated in establishing the democratic rule in Nepal. Political parties also noticed their presence and their passion for establishing democracy, freedom and equality in Nepalese land. Somehow few representatives are nominated in the law makers’ seat of the Constitution Assembly of Nepal. On that front, Hon member Sunil Babu Pant is already on the berth of law making position with the nomination by Nepal Communist Party United. This was the land marking step for the sexual and gender minorities in Nepal. However, complete reflection of political party’s positivism towards the marginalized groups is yet to seen in the constitution making process. The government of Nepal led by Unified Nepal Communist Party Maoist and present government also allocated some fund for the welfare of the sexual and gender minorities. Although meager in nature, this is symbolic of inclusion of this community. It is not that there are no problems ahead for this community. There are challenges to face ahead to this community. The significant chunk of the society still needed to be sensitized on the community issues to establish the fact that the sexual and gender minorities are the part of this society and they are the natural citizen of this country as defined by the progressive decision made by Hon Supreme Court of Nepal in 21st December 2007 AD. Many political parties are still unaware about the community existence which might be the obstacle for inclusion of this community into new constitution that is in the making.
To address these challenges, BDS is organizing massive campaigning programs to sensitize the broader society like media, government bodies, non-government representatives, international communities, political leaders, law makers and the other associations like business groups, private sectors, the human rights activists & intellectuals. Sensitization programs include mass-based meetings, seminars, workshops, publications, media campaign, TV & Radio broadcasting and the rallies. Besides these, Blue Diamond Society also organizes capacity building programs to enhance skills and capacity of the community members. Basically, strategic leadership training to generate future leaders to lead the community issues, correspondence skill to handle day to day affairs of the organizations, and the livelihood training to uplift the economic status of the community people who are deprived of basic rights of food, shelter, education and employment. Cook training, security guard training, computer training and English language training are the programs that BDS is conducting these years. BDS also provided higher education scholarships to 75 community members from around Nepal. With the generous support of the organizations like LLH, European Union, HIVOS, Astraea Foundations Inc, RFSU, Danish Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, Open Society Institute (OSI), UNDP/DFID, British Embassy, Dutch Embassy, CCO/CIDA, BDS is able to carry on its vision to establish the fact that the sexual and gender minorities are the part of this society and they have the rights to enjoy freedom and equality as other Nepalese citizens in Nepal. The community people are optimistic and they never lose hope in building inclusive and just society where any individuals, be they from whatever background, can have space in this society.
Achievement So far
- Land marking decision of Supreme Court on 2007 AD ordering government to grant all the citizenry rights to Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal
- Sunil Babu Pant is already become a member in Constitution Assembly and Parliament of Nepal from Nepal Communist Party United
- Spanning of the BDS offices in 40 cities and 5 development regions of Nepal lead by the community members.
- More than 15 Community based organizations registered their offices in their locality and become a member of Federation of Sexual and gender Minorities Nepal.
- Among these organizations, more than five CBOs were able to get local government fund in their social development and skill development. The fund is utilized in skill building program to the community persons and public sensitization program.
- More than three hundred thousand community members are in constant touch with Blue Diamond Society.
- The two constitutional subcommittee, Fundamental rights and state guiding directives committee and Marginalized and Minorities committee, mentioned the legal recognition and protective provisions for sexual and gender minorities in their preliminary drafts of constitution. And in the discussion, the issues of LGBT are never debated. Every CA members shown agreement on LGBT rights.
- Nepal government, for the second time allocated 3 million budget to this community.
- Investment Bank mentioned ”others” in the line of Male and Female of its Bank account form.
- National Human Rights Commission too mentioned ”others” in the line of Male and Female of its complaint form.
- Prioritization of support in social development of the sexual and gender minorities in Memorandum of Understanding held between Nepal government and Norwegian government in March 2009
- Nai Prakashan, one of the eminent literary publication house, establish the award to recognize the person in the LGBT community who contributed to the society and their community. The award size in Nrs 10,000.00.
- The text book of social science in the Bachelors and Masters of the Government education Curriculum introduced LGBT definition.
- Establishing of Forum for student from sexual and gender minorities in Nepal, in which Roshan Mahato, the secretary of BDS and also the student in Trichandra Multiple College is heading that Forum. The main vision of this forum is to end discrimination and facilitate LGBT students to get higher education and other supports.
- At least once in a week, LGBT issues have been the constant feature in print and electronic media which helps in sensitizing the public at large.
- ABC National Television started to broadcast one episode per week as ” Third Sex” bringing out the issues from different dimensions of political, social and cultural aspect of LGBT. Every Tuesday at 7:30 PM-8:30 PM, Third sex program has been running.
- Blue Diamond Society is also pioneering the Pink Tourism in Nepal that encourages LGBT around the world to visit and spend their holiday time here in Nepal. BDS and Pink Travels and Tours jointly promoting LGBT tourism in Nepal.
- Sunil Babu Pant, Constitution Assembly Member is also engaging in burning issue of Climate Change. He along with 11 other CA members visited Chitwan District and Mustang District to bring out the impact of Climate Change in those rural settings. He is also the coordinator of parliamentary committee on Climate Change mitigation team. He also actively participated in Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change in Dec 7-19th 2009 AD
- There are increasing numbers of visitors, scholars, interns, volunteers, students to show willingness to study and understand the community issues. Currently, there are 8 interns, foreigners and the in-country members doing intern in the Blue Diamond Society and in its partner organizations.
- Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal has been established to strengthen the networks between the community based organizations working in different parts of Nepal. This is the Umbrella organization, under which Blue Diamond Society also is the member organization. Currently there are more than 15 CBOs associated with this Federation.
- Same sex marriage study committee has started its work on possible provisions for same sex marriage in Nepal.
- Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Nepal has decided to mention “third gender” in its population and household census form. In its previous form, there were only male and female in the category of sex/gender. It will be the stepping stone in Nepalese LGBT history to bring out the hidden population into government programs.
- Election Commission of Nepal has decided to mention “Third Gender” in its voter’s list form. In its previous form, there were Male and female in the gender column.
- One transgender woman, Bishnu Adhikary gets the citizenship ID in her own gender identity as ruled by the Supreme Court to the Government of Nepal in 2007 AD. This has encouraged other transgender to demand for the identity in their own gender. Continuous lobby, delegations and sit-in programs at the central to local level.
- Sexual and gender minorities or LGBT communities gradually increasing their participation in social and national cause to demonstrate that they can contribute to the fellow members and to the society. They are giving their hand of solidarity to the cause of women, dalits, madhesis, differently-abled communities, sex workers, baadi community, labor, ethnics groups. And they are increasing their presence in the national events like Environment day, Republic Day, Human Rights day, World Aids day, Labour Day, Women Day, Democracy day, Day Against Homophobia and other timely burning movement which are genuine which have impact in the society and its people.