1 October 2021, Kathmandu
Mitini Nepal a non-government organization working for the rights and dignity of Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender in coordination with Amplify change has conducted an interaction program with national assembly and House of Representatives members of parliaments in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu on Thursday. The program was focused on access to health of the sexual and gender minorities including their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Despite the LGBTI rights are guaranteed and protected by the constitution, the community has been facing many challenges due to their perceived gender identity and sexual orientation. They are often targeted to hate crimes, family rejection, discrimination, harassment and violence and are denied access to health care, education, employment and social security. The injustice against the community is rampant and they are deprived of their fundamental and civil rights because of the existing gender stereotypes or social values and norms and legal loopholes.
The program began with the introduction session by the participants along with the welcome remarks by Sunny Shahi, Social Mobilizer of Mitini Nepal. Similarly, Program Officer Neelam Dhungana shed light on the objectives of the interaction program.
Executive Director of Mitini Nepal, Sarita K.C. then started her presentation on sex, gender and sexuality including the communities sexual and reproductive health and right issues. K.C.stressed on that due to the lack of LGBTI friendly health laws and policies, community has been facing many difficulties. Though homosexuality was decriminalized in 2007, but same-sex marriage is still not legalized in Nepal. Article 12, 18 and 42 of the constitution has guaranteed and protected the LGBTI rights, however community is deprived from the basic human rights. She says,” Sustainable development goals have been addressing the community in its different goals, however it has failed to work ensuring no one will be left behind. There are no LGBTI friendly hospitals and even the healthcare provider’s lacks knowledge on the community issues.” In between the presentation, you-tube videos on LGBTI terminologies and another video related to IVF (Invitro Fertilization) technology were also broadcasted.
LGBTI community members have also shared their stories and experience faced while getting treatment from hospitals. Transman Samyog K.C. complained that the state has not taken any initiative for marriage equality even though he has been living with his partner for a long time and his family has accepted their relationship. Similarly, another transman Lucky Budha said that he faced discrimination by healthcare providers and unnecessarily asked many questions about his gender identity when he went to the hospital for his treatment.
Pramila Kumari of Janata Samajwadi Party and Member of Parliament, National Assembly expressed her commitment to work for the LGBTI rights focusing on proportional and equal participation on state mechanism. “LGBTI community has rights to live with dignity, peace and social justice including right to marriage, social security, access to hormone therapy, right to child adoption and access to COVID-19 vaccine”, she says.
Speaking on the occasion, Dinanath Sharma, Member of the House of Representatives, Committee on Sustainable Development and Good Governance, said that the solution could be found only by identifying the real problems and they are ready to work for the Sustainable Development Goals that have addressed the community.
Another Member of Parliament from Women and Social Committee shared that the committee is ready to work for ensuring access to health, education and employment of the sexual and gender minorities coordinating with local stakeholder’s government.
Rekha Kumari Jha, Member of the House of Representatives for Education and Health Committee, said that she was serious about the issues of the community and that the bill should come from the concerned committee in the House for the implementation of the rights protected in the constitution.
Dr. Surendra Yadav, former health state minister and Member of the House of Representatives, Education and Health Committee said that LGBTI rights in Nepal is much progressive laws worldwide however, community should coordinate with Health Ministry and Nepal Medical Association for lobby and advocacy for the communities access to health and reproductive rights.
Different committee’s Members of Parliament, LGBTI community members including media persons were participated in the program which ended with the thank you note of chairperson of the interaction program Laxmi Ghalan, founder president of Mitini Nepal.