18 June 2019, Kathmandu
It is quite surprising to listen from the general people, especially from the youths that they are unknown regarding the LGBT community, particularly in the Nepalese context. The term ‘LGBT’ refers to the combined form of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as an increasingly open, acknowledged and visible part of society. A modest body of knowledge on LGBT has been developed over the last two decades, much remains to be explored. LGBT in broad coalition of groups, are diverse with respect to gender, sexual orientation, race and socioeconomic status. The LGBT community generally celebrates pride, diversity, individuality and sexuality. LGBT activist see this community building as a counterbalance to heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexualism and conformist pressure that exist in the larger society. Such community are organizing different orientation programs to support their movements for separate legal identity including LGBT rights in various places around the world.
The struggle for LGBT rights in Nepal is relatively a recent phenomenon. However, LGBT rights in Nepal are among the most progressive in Asia. The Nepalese Constitution recognizes LGBT rights as fundamental rights. The Government of Nepal, following the demise of the Monarchy, legalized homosexuality across the country in 2007 along with the introduction of sexual new laws. These laws explicitly encompass protections being based on the sexual orientation. Similarly, the constitution of Nepal, approved by the constituent assembly on 16 September, 2015 comprises several provisions pertaining to the rights of the LGBT community. This includes the right to have their preferred gender displayed on their identity cards, a prohibition on discrimination on any ground including sex or sexual orientation by the state and private entities eligibility for special protections that may be provided by law. Based on the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal in late 2007, government was also looking into legalizing same-sex marriage. However, still the Supreme Court refrained from making a decision on legalizing it. In Nepal, LGBT community has been often limited to the umbrella term ‘third gender’. A lack of awareness about diversity within the community has meant that the policymakers do not comprehend the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
Despite this supportive legal provision, LGBT people are still facing various sorts of discrimination in the society. The major problem is the acceptance from people outside the community. Within the boundaries of families, homes and schools, acceptance still remains a constant struggle for LGBT people. Though, they are fighting for equal right and acceptance, people in the LGBT community are looked down upon all the time. Thus is a major issue because discrimination against the LGBT community is highly prevalent. People’s prejudices lead them to think that LGBT people are odd and very different from the heterogeneous community. Society has taken them as a matter of ‘stigma’ and this stigmatization can lead to varying types of chronic health issues such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and even suicide. They are facing more challenges in getting healthcare. In addition to this, nowadays the situation has been little bit changed towards the treatment of the LGBT community. Different NGO’s and INGO’s have been putting their effort seriously in order to secure the LGBT rights. Even, the mainstream media and others have placed pertinent space to cover the LGBT issues comparing to the past. In the context of Nepal, Blue Diamond society(2001), Mitini Nepal(2005) are some LGBT rights organizations to advocate for change in the existing laws against the homosexuality and other sexual and gender minority communities. President of Mitini Nepal, Laxmi Ghalan said “though Supreme Court has allowed LGBT people for living-together, same-sex marriage has still not legally issued. It is creating problem to the LGBT couples to pursue further activities such as child adoption, documentation process etc. Ghalan further added that regarding the identity of LGBT, though state has issued them citizenship with ‘O’ category, but still within that category, sexual orientation has not been manifested. We are being treated keeping into the same basket in the marginalized community, but not identified as sexual and gender minorities and has always been discriminated in a society.”
Due to the sexual orientation of LGBT people, they should never lead to the discrimination or abuse. An environment of acceptance must be created where they can enjoy their rights fully. So far in order to promulgate the LGBT rights guaranteed by the constitution, the heterogeneous community should also go hand in hand.