By: Richa Pokhrel
June was Pride month, a month to celebrate our LGBTQ community. In the US, pride month was started in 1969 after the Stonewall riots. Cities around the country, as well as the world, celebrate Pride Day. In Nepal, the first official pride parade happened in 2010, but smaller parades had existed before then. It was organized by the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first LGBTQ organization. The Blue Diamond society had to go through many hurdles before they were officially recognized. I am so thankful for their work in helping create LGBTQ friendly policies and being a safe place for people in Nepal.
In Hinduism, people who identify as the third gender are recognized. In the Ramayana, when Ram is exiled in the forest, he asked the men and women to leave, the hijras, as they are known stayed on the outskirts of the forest, awaiting his return. Hijras are seen as people who can bless or curse you. Often times, this community performs at large celebrations and ceremonies, dancing and singing. Unfortunately, hijras are very much discriminated against and it’s hard for people in this community to find work outside of begging and prostitution.
In 2011, Nepal included the third gender in their census, being the first country to do so. They also allowed people to mark “O” which stands for other on passport applications, recognizing transgender individuals. I could not find any accurate data on how many people in Nepal identify as LGBTQ. Not even in the 2014 census. I mean this makes sense, our society is still very conservative and it’s hard for people to come out and be themselves. There is so much stigma. While Nepal’s government has made headway in terms of recognizing people who do not perfectly fit into a heterosexual narrative, our society is behind in terms of acceptance. Even today, strict gender roles are followed. There is little acceptance when someone is seen as being “different.” There is still a lot of discrimination, harassment, and violence.
In 2007, Nepal’s Supreme Court said people could identify their gender according to their “feelings”, not specifically what sex they were born into. Even with the government making these policies, trans people who want to apply for passports and other official documents still have a hard time obtaining one. It’s not an easy process and can take years. The local government agencies slow to change their policies and mindsets. A lot more needs to be done to support our LGBTQ community.
I just wanted to celebrate our LBGTQ friends, you make my life richer, and you inspire me to speak my own truth.
Prominent Nepali LGBTQ people:
- Sunil Pant, a memeber of Nepali parliment 2008-2012, founder of Blue Diamond Society
- Lex Limbu, Nepali blogger
- Anjali Lama, transwomen, model
- Prabitra Benjamin, Executive Director of Adhikaar
- Bhumika Shrestha, activist, first transwomen to attain a Nepali passport
- Blue Diamond Society – they have locations throughout the country
- Mitini Nepal
- Saino Nepal
- Sahara Samaj
- Ekata Nepal
- Naulo Srijana Nepal
- Paribartan Nepal
If you want more thorough information, please read this USAID report on being LGBTQ in Nepal.