Archive for the ‘Blue Diamond Society’ Category

“Struggle Within”, a Documentary Film by Manoj Pandey

Russian Culture Center in Nepal discriminate sexual and Gender minorities based on Russian Law and Religion

I am writing this mail with grave concern with discriminatory behavior from Russian Culture Center in Nepal against sexual and gender minority communities.
Manoj Pandey, a documentary filmmaker and trade union activists, made “Struggle Within“, a ground breaking documentary on Nepalese sexual and gender minorities facing work and labour related dissemination. Main issues covered by the documentary were: Two Lesbian fired by Nepal Army in 2007, another Two Lesbians fired by Maoist Army in 2005. Third gender fired by a restaurant in Pokhara.
Blue Diamond Society made this documentary with the support from European Union Funding support and was preparing to show at Russian Culture Center, booked the Russian Culture Center but at the last moment Russian Culture Canter coordinator Mr. Arseny Starkov cancelled the show of the documentary saying “sexual and gender minorities issues are against Russian Law and Religion”.

This is very unfortunate that Russian Culture Center tried to impose Russian law and religion in Nepali soil.

Nepal supreme court said on its verdict in 21 Dec 2007 “Discrimination against sexual and gender minorities is not allowed”. Nepal government also have supportive and inclusive policy and programs for sexual and gender minorities.

We all Nepali sexual and gender minorities condemned Russian Culture center’s unfortunate decision which is against the Supreme court’s decision and against the Nepal government’s policy that is inclusive of sexual and gender minorities.

We demand Russian culture canter to explain Nepal government and Nepali people: ” Whether Nepali law or Russian law we should follow in Nepali soil, Nepali territory?”

We call Nepal government to issue directives to such parties like Russian Culture Center that such parties MUST follow Nepali law in Nepali soil and any discrimination against any Nepali citizens regardless of sexual orientation and gender identities are prohibited in Nepal.

We call trade unions to look at this matter seriously and condemn such act of discrimination against minority citizens.

In Solidarity

Sunil Babu Pant
Member of Parliament and Founder of Blue Diamond Society

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The Kathmandu Post: Capital to see first LGBT Centre in region
Sent by Sunil Pant

Kathmandu, Feb 02

Nepal has been ahead of other South Asian countries to ensure the legal rights of sexual minorities. Now, members of the community have decided to establish a South Asian Community Centre, said to be the first of its kind in the region, in the Capital with an aim to empower and foster a sense of unity among sexual minorities.

According to Sunil Babu Pant, the first Constituent Assembly member from the community and the president of Blue Diamond Society, an organisation that works towards sexual minority rights, the centre will play a pivotal role in imparting various trainings for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (LGBTs) so as to make them self-dependent.

Despite legal rights, LGBTs in Nepal still are not socially accepted. Most are still unemployed, and some have difficulties enrolling at schools or colleges due to their sexual orientation.

According to Pant, the Centre will have all the facilities such as a health centre, a library, a theatre hall, a conference hall, shelter for needy and abandoned members, playgrounds, swimming pool, and a cafeteria with ample parking space.

In this regard, Blue Diamond Society has already bought five ropanis of land in Taudaha on the outskirts of the Valley, and architectural plans for the centre are underway. A part of the funds were provided by the government.

Pant is hopeful that the centre will systematise their programmes and activities, uplift the existing status of community members, provide temporary residence for members of the community, and ensure the privacy of members as well as social security to elderly members.

The estimated budget for the centre stands at Rs. 24.5 million. “There is no way to wait for government assistance. We will reach out to potential donors,” said Pant. In addition, the government has also pledged to provide assistance to make the plan successful.

Blue Diamond Society plans to complete the construction of the centre within three years.

Full Article

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/coalition-to-work-for-rights-of-lgbt-community-in-south-asia/442099/

By Dhanya Nair

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Photo: Sunil Pant

Mumbai: The upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the world wide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement may not have anything in common but keeping in mind the fact that homosexuality is illegal in over 80 countries with India being one of them, international pressure groups are urging that the rights of this marginalised community be seriously addressed this election season.

On Wednesday, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) with a coalition of four countries in the South Asian region, where homophobia and discriminatory laws against homosexuality is rampant, chaired their first meeting in the city. Countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India in coalition with SIDA will work collectively to ensure that rights of this minority community are looked after seriously.

Giving teeth to this Mumbai Chapter was Nepal’s gay Member of Parliament, Sunil Babu Pant. “Abuse of the LGBT community takes place all over the world part of this is also the discriminatory laws we have. In Nepal we brought a sea change when a small Communist party put the LGBT rights on their election manifesto and came to power. Today Nepal as a country is more open to accept us in the mainstream society,” said Pant. Pant says India can go a long way if a similar approach is adopted here. “Acceptance of the LGBT community in the mainstream is a two-way process. Though homophobia has to be reduced at the grass root level, lot of this change can also take place if our rights are protected. Since India considers itself to be a champion of democracy, it should make serious efforts to put an end to unfriendly laws,” said Pant.

As this coalition’s main ambition is to bring changes in LGBT rights in South Asia, their main aim for India is to change the controversial section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which defines homosexuality as a criminal offence. The coalition formed by SIDA will be meeting in Delhi next month to discuss the issue with the government. “We had filed a PIL with the Delhi High Court eight years back to change this section. There is a serious need to scrap this section as this gives the state the right to intervene in anyone’s personal life. The section has been used for harassment, physical and sexual violence in the past. Hence the LGBT community seriously thinks that the Act is more of a corruption issue than law and order one,” said activist lawyer, Aditya Bandyopadyay.

kathmandu-pride-2005-01Luring gays as tourism destination by Baburam Kharel, ekantipur.com, sent by Sunil Pant
Photo Kathmandu Pride 2005, Blue Diamond Society

KATHMANDU, March 24 – Life’s pretty rough on gays and lesbians, more so while travelling. Even on a simple occasion like eating out, more often than not they are subjected to discrimination. For instance, waiters get nosy about their appearance and may even ask them about their sexual identity.
Fortunately, thanks to Nepal’s tourism and service industry, foreign gays and lesbians do not have to suffer like in other countries.
In a break from the traditional mindset, some of the country’s tour operators have now geared up to lure foreign gay and lesbian tourists. Earlier, this kind of travel used to be closeted.
A number of restaurants, discos and hotels have been established in the country that cater to gay and lesbian couples. Employees in these establishments have been trained to behave better so that visiting couples get the respect they are looking for.
Popular travel website utopia-asia.com has listed these various places where foreign gays and lesbians are treated differently. However, proprietors of these venues rarely open up regarding the service they provide.
Another travel website — www.visitnepal2011.com — has come to the fore calling gays and lesbians to visit Nepal. This website has posted a separate section for gay/lesbian travel but does not disclose its travel features.
Notably, according to Lonely Planet’s website, some foreign gays and lesbians have been choosing the country as the most romantic rendezvous.
Owing to the country’s deep-rooted culture of respecting guests, scores of foreign gays and lesbians travel in the country every year without any hindrance, say travel operators. But this is a subject rarely discussed.
“It is something that foreign guests are always treated in a good manner,” says Jyoti Adhikari, President of Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, an umbrella organisation of more than 700 travel agencies in the country. “Compared to other western countries, foreign gays and lesbians are not discriminated against here.”
Adhikari admits that a large number of travellers have been visiting the country since years and no case of discrimination has come to the fore. “Some restaurants and hotels in Kathmandu offer good treatment to these couples,” he informs.
Likewise, Sunil Babu Pant, a lawmaker and president of Blue Diamond Society, an organisation that advocates the rights of gays and lesbians, also admits these tourists have never been discriminated in the country whereas Nepalis from the same community are always prone to harsh treatment.
“With travel package for foreign gays and lesbians, local sexual minorities can get employment opportunity in the tourism sector,” says Pant. “The government itself should take initiative in this regard.”
The Supreme Court in a landmark verdict recently said gays and lesbians were “natural” people. It directed the government to remove all discrimination against the community and ensure for them the rights enjoyed by all other citizens.

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Photo by Dipesh Shrestha

Nepal’s sexual minorities on the move by Kushual Regmi, myrepublica.com

Kathmandu, March 5: On February 25, Sunil Babu Pant received the Monette-Howitz Trust’s annual award for making a significant contribution for work against homophobia. This is not the first time that Pant has received an International award. But this time it was, in Pant’s own words, more special because a representative of the Monette-Howitz Trust, Winston Wilde, came all the way to Kathmandu from Los Angeles to present the award among his own people.

“There are so many gay organizations fighting for rights, but the work that has been done in Nepal is significant and thus stands out,” says Wilde.

As the work done by Blue Diamond Society (BDS), an organization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and inter-sex (LGBTI) people of Nepal, gets recognition around the world, its members are also gaining more confidence in their fight to gain equal rights, but for many the fight against an age old taboo is still a lifelong struggle.

A transgendered person who bumped into BDS a few years ago, Bhumika Shrestha, says the community of sexual minorities she found in BDS finally helped give her a sense of identity.

“Before coming here, I was utterly confused about how to regard my sexual orientation, my own acceptance, and how dependent I was on what others thought about me,” shares Bhumika.

But now Bhumika not only found a community that accepts her as she is, but she is also taking the cause of the LGBTI community to places she hadn’t imagined before. Bhumika, currently the human rights officer at the Blue Diamond Society, has made it her mission to fight for the rights of the LGBTI community.

“We had gone to meet the President yesterday, and his response towards us is very positive,” says Bhumika.

“Before we needed to hide, but now society has recognized our existence, although most remain prejudiced. Our major concern is that we still don’t have even the most basic fundamental rights,” she adds.

In December 2007, the Supreme Court issued a directive which contained three ruling points. These points included providing citizenship cards according to gender identity and also to insure equal rights for the LGBTI community.

While laws are being amended at the judiciary front, Sunil Babu is lobbying at the Constituent Assembly, and the LGBTI community of Nepal is making notable progress, issues at the social front things remain more complex.

A gay man I talked with did not want to reveal his identity because he says it would complicate things at home.

“Although I started to be aware about my sexual orientation when I was eleven years old, I still haven’t been able to say it to my parents,” he said.

Now in his twenties and with a stable job, this member of the Blue Diamond Society says the reason for him to keep this secret from his family is, “because they just wouldn’t understand!”

He is not alone though. According to Sunil Babu Pant, among the hundred and forty thousand members of the Blue Diamond Society, only five thousand have revealed their sexual and gender identities to their family.

Pant feels it will take time for the social stigma attached to the LGBTI community to change. As the first and only gay member of the Constituent Assembly, he receives mixed reactions from other CA members.

“Many women members of the Constituent Assembly tell me that they didn’t know that a group more marginalized than they also existed, but many older men accuse me of increasing the number of gays in the country,” he says with a laugh.

Winston Wilde of Monette-Howitz says it takes a whole generation for social acceptance to occur.

“A generation ago, only 25% of college students raised their hand when asked if they had a gay relative, now 50% raise their hand. This doesn’t mean that the population of gays has increased, but the acceptance certainly has,” says Wilde.

BDS states that on an international level eight to ten percent of the population of each country makes up the LGBTI community. Sunil Babu Pant says the case is the same in Nepal. And although he feels Nepal has made great strides towards gaining rights for the LGBTI community, he agrees with Wilde that it may take an entire generation before social acceptance is truly achieved.

Monette-Horwitz Award Pages

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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.

Welcome to the Mt. Everest Blue Diamond Project:
80% of funds raised will support the Blue Diamond Society’s need for a basic health care clinic.

Click link for more details…
First, there are a few things I want you to know… and I want to tell you what they all have to do with one another.

* On December 10, 2008 the world will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the articles of this declaration with the premise that all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.

* In November of 2006 twenty-nine distinguished experts from twenty-five countries with expertise in human rights law met at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. These experts unanimously adopted the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

* In existence since 1988 and incorporated in 1996 Project 10East is New England’s stronghold for the work of creating and sustaining safe space in schools and communities where young people can experience mutual respect with a focus on personal excellence, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation or the perception thereof.

* In 2001, in Kathmandu, Nepal the Blue Diamond Society was established with the vision to create societies which respect and value all sexual and gender minorities and where each sexual and gender minorities can live with equal rights and dignity and have hopes and opportunities for the future.

In recognition of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to promote the Yogyakarta Principles, Project 10East is partnering with me on my trek in Nepal.

The trek will support the work of both Project 10East and the Blue Diamond Society.

Sunil Pant

First South Asia LGBTI Partnership Building Workshop
September 3-4 2008, Kathmandu, Nepal

We are very pleased to announce the first South Asia LGBTI Partnership Building Workshop organized by LLH Norway and Blue Diamond Society, Kathmandu. The workshop will take place at Hotel Astoria in Lazimpat area of Kathmandu September 3 and 4, 2008.

The aim of the workshop is to form partnership amongst South Asian LGBTI groups and communities, share experiences, learn form each other and support LGBTI movements in South Asia to advance our rights and ensure justice. We also aim to strengthen our knowledge in the field of South Asian social and cultural sexuality.

The 2008 workshop theme will focus on strengthening old and new LGBTI movements in South Asia. There have been many successful South Asian LGBTI movements in some countries, and new groups are emerging that can contribute the South Asian movement.

The primary workshop language will be English.

More informations : Contact Blue Diamond Society

As some of you already know, the HIV/AIDS hospice run by Blue Diamond Society was shut down because of deep-rooted homophobia.

‘Anti-gay bias evicts dying AIDS patients in Nepal’ (Thaindian News):
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/anti-gay-bias-evicts-dying-aids-patients-in-nepal_10029692.html

I’m sure you all know BDS’s commitment for equal rights for all people including LGBTI. Situation surrounding LGBTI people in Nepal is very difficult and homophobia and human rights violation are still widespread.

Sunil Pant, president of BDS has told me (and several other friends of his) that they can purchase a house and start a hospice again if they have some 100,000 US Dollars. I’ve launched a fund-raising campaign here in Japan for them and I know a few in the UK have personally donated BDS. But, the amount of donations we’ve collected so far is not enough to help BDS at all.

So, I’d like to ask you to help BDS by donating some amount and to circulate this message to your friends who will understand BDS’s grassroots and vital activism for LGBTI in Nepal.

Below is the BDS’s bank account information which I received from Sunil.
Please choose one of them and help BDS.

Thank you.

Azusa Yamashita
GayJapanNews
Tokyo, Japan

*****
INFORMATION ABOUT BDS:
Name of organization: Blue Diamond Society
Address: Shiv Bhakta Marg: 344, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +977 1 4443350 Fax: +977 1 4438600
Email: bluediamondsociety@yahoo.com
Contact person at organization: Mr. Sunil B Pant (Title: Director)

Name of Bank : Everest Bank Limited
Full street address of bank : EBL, Lazimpat-2,Kathmandu Nepal
Telephone and Fax numbers of bank: 977 1 4443377, 977 1 4443160
Account Name: Blue Diamond Society VII
Name, address and telephone of the bank account holder: Blue Diamond Society,
Lazimpat-2,Khursanitar, Shiva, Bhakta Marga, House No 344
Bank account number: 014 030400 A
SWIFT IBAN number of bank EVBLPAXXX

OR INFORMATION ABOUT OUR LOCAL BANK:
Bank Name: Himalayan Bank Limited,
Bank Address: Tridevi Marg, Thamel
City, State, and Postal Code: Kathmandu
Country: Nepal
Organization’s bank account name: Blue Diamond Society
Our organization’s bank account number: 001 00211060012
SORT CODE / SWIFT / BIC#: HIMANPKA

INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BANK’S CORRESPONDING US BANK:
Corresponding U.S. Bank’s Name: American Express Bank
Corresponding U.S. Bank’s Address: New York
City, State, and Postal Code: New York
Our bank’s account # with Corresponding U.S. Bank: 723262
9 Digit ABA (American Bank Association) Number: FED ABA
No: 124071889, (Chips No: CP 0159, SWIFT No: AEIBUS33)

GayJapanNews - Azusa Yamashita
azusa@gayjapannews.com
http://gayjapannews.com

sunilpant2.jpg

Nepal: Kathmandu, Third Sex Launches Election Campaign in East Nepal

Kathmandu: Sexual minorities of an eastern Nepal town, Itahari kicked off their first election rally wearing colourful dresses and playing music bands to canvass for three gay candidates.

Dipak Rai and Shrawan Chaudhari, both gay, are contesting the election under the banner of Nepal Communist Party (United) and while the third, Suryanarayan Chaudhari is contesting as an independent candidate.

The campaign jointly organized by Blue Diamond Society and Human Welfare Society with a dancing group has helped in warming up election climate in the district, a participant said.

Hundreds of demonstrators participated in the rally carrying placard with the slogan “rights to sexual minorities,” “gay freedom” and “equal status to third sex in the constitution.”

The three candidates are representing some 4,000 lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-sexual communities residing in the district.

A landmark ruling of Nepal Supreme Court in favour of third sex, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and intersexuals, in December last year granted them recognition and directed the government to promulgate a new act or amend the existing ones to ensure rights of the third sex.

Sunil Pant, Blue Diamond Society, an Organisation for Lesbians, Gays, Bixesuals and Transgenders in Nepal