Date of Award
Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)
International Development, Community and Environment
Professor David Bell
Professor William Fisher
Various social justice and political movements have assisted in expanding LGBTI rights around the world. Many international movements have influenced Nepali LGBTI people to start a movement in the country. In addition, political upheaval in Nepal that overthrew the monarchy and established a multi-party democratic republican system along with an inclusive new constitution helped the LGBTI movement in the country grow rapidly. Between 2001 to 2015, the LGBTI groups in Nepal have made history by achieving major milestones such as Supreme Court verdicts in their favor and a new constitution in 2015 that assures sexual and gender minorities of equal rights and protections. As such, Nepal has become established as a leader in South Asia and the Global South on LGBTI human rights.
2001 was a significant year for LGBTI people in Nepal. Before 2001, only a Maoist insurgency had called for LGBTI and human rights to be put on the national political agenda. The party was trying to raise voices of powerless and minorities groups. The turning point for LGBTI occurred in 2001 when the grassroots activists Sunil Babu Pant, Manisha Dhakal and Pinky Gurung together started a LGBTI organization called Blue Diamond Society (BDS) to fight for LGBTI rights in Nepal. Since it was established, BDS has helped set up more than 50 Community Based Organizations (CBO) working on LGBTI rights across the county.
In 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal affirmed the rights of LGBTI people to have equal rights. Following the court decision, the government of Nepal has gradually started implementing the Court’s progressive and far-reaching decision. Some community members have already received citizenship and passport with an ‘O’ category, making Nepal a pioneer on transgender rights in the world. ‘O’ indicates as ‘Others’ that is mentioned with Male and Female in the citizenship and passport in gender column. As a result many LGBTI people have come out and sought their rights despite family and social stigma. Major political parties (Nepali congress, CPN-United, CPN-Maoist) have included LGBTI rights issues in their manifestos. Sunil Babu Pant was appointed a Member of Parliament by a fringe Communist party and participated in the writing of the new constitution, which included provisions on LGBTI rights. The new constitution has included LGBTI rights in various sections.
However, despite these major achievements, many challenges still confront the LGBTI community. There is continued widespread social stigma and discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Family and society do not treat as their child once they disclose their identity. There are not many opportunities of them. They face challenge; while taking government services such from health sector. Successive governments have been slow to implement the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 verdict and society is yet to fully understand the experiences and challenges of the LGBTI community. The government do not think that agenda of LGBTI community is important. Government frequently change due to political instability.
Additionally, there are divisions within various LGBTI subgroups and frictions on what issues ought to be emphasized. Most LGBTI communities are international donor-dependent and often rely on what donor nation’s desire for policy changes. This has generally included HIV issues affecting gay men and transgender women while excluding, internationally and unintentionally, lesbians and transgender men. Because lesbians and transgender men are not consider as high risk in HIV/AIDS as gay men and transgender women. A critical issue is that LGBTI people lack opportunities for gainful employment and this often leads them to take up risky professions such as sex work and informal labor.
Mahato, Roshan, "The Movement for Human Rights for Sexual and Gender Minorities in Nepal: The Beginning, 2001-2015" (2017). International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE). 148.