Nepal Maoists to Stand Up for Gay Rights in UN
Sent by Sunil Pant.
Kathmandu, Dec 11: Nepal’s ruling Maoist party, which till a year ago regarded homosexuality as a perversion threatening to corrupt society, will strike a blow for gay rights at the UN later this month, marking a sea-change in the organisation that took up arms to seize power.
Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who is defying the hardliners in his own party to push for a liberal multi-party democracy, has asked the Foreign Ministry and Nepal’s Ambassador to the UN to support a statement that will be tabled at the UN General Assembly this month recognising human rights violations on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Prachanda, a former revolutionary whose once banned party waged a 10-year war on the state to end the monarchy, renewed his commitment to gay rights on Wednesday to a delegation led by Nepal’s only publicly gay lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant.
The Prime Minister’s office also gave the delegation a copy of the order issued by it Monday, asking the appropriate Ministries to support the gay rights statement in the UN initiated by France and supported by a core group of eight more nations, including Japan, the Netherlands and Norway.
“Since then, 55 other countries have pledged to sign the document,” Pant said. “Nepal becomes the 56th.”
The statement, coming in a year that marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, urges for an end to human rights abuse perpetrated on people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The abuses include violence, criminal sanctions, torture and discrimination in accessing economic, social and cultural rights.
The Maoist decision to uphold gay rights comes just a year after its cadres were intimidating homosexuals in Kathmandu valley and asking house owners not to accept gay tenants.
Pant, who was nominated to Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly by the Communist Party of Nepal-United, a partner in the ruling coalition and the first party to have fielded gays and transgenders during the April elections, says the Supreme Court was the first to secure gay rights.
Last year, the apex court recognised gays as “natural people” and ordered the government to end all discrimination against them. Last month, it also sanctioned gay marriages.
Recognising the growing network and clout of Nepal’s sexual minorities, this year three major political parties, including the Maoists, wooed the community by including gay welfare in their election manifestos.
“I wrote to Prachanda in November, urging him to show leadership at the UN on the issues of sexual and gender diversity,” said Pant, who in 2001 founded the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first gay rights organisation that today is supported by British rock icon Sir Elton John.
“By supporting the France statement, Nepal shows government support for human rights that are set out in its own interim constitution,” he added.
Pant hailed the Maoist government’s efforts on behalf of the sexual minorities.
The budget tabled by Maoist Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has allocated Nepali Rs 2.5 million (USD 38,800) for a community building that can accommodate 50 homeless transgenders.
In a bigger project under the Poverty Alleviation Programme, about Rs 70 million has been earmarked to uplift the status of marginalised people like women, Dalits (former untouchables) and sexual minorities.