The Blue Diamond
Society, Nepal's growing LGBT civil rights group, has
been granted an esteemed international award from the
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
founder Sunil Pant will be presented with the Felipa de
Souza Award next month at ceremonies in New York and San
acknowledges the courage and impact of grassroots groups and
leaders dedicated to improving the human rights of LGBTs and
others stigmatized and abused for their sexuality or
HIV status. It carries a $5,000 stipend.
Pant founded Blue
Diamond in 2001 to address the needs of Nepali sexual
minorities and people living with HIV. The group's rise
paralleled that of Nepal's democracy movement. The
constitutional monarchy emerged in November from a
decade of civil war, its Maoist guerrillas having signed
a treaty to end hostilities and join its recently reinstated
No Nepali laws
specifically criminalize homosexuality. Even so, Nepal has
received U.N. criticism for its harsh treatment of sexual
minorities. Nepali police continue to harass those who
work in HIV prevention, Blue Diamond reports.
In 2006, 26
transsexuals were arrested in one raid and held without bail
in the central police station for weeks without being able
to contact anyone.
Louise Arbour, U.N. high commissioner for Human Rights,
slammed Nepal's new government for not protecting its LGBT
population. In March, two female AIDS workers
suspected of being lesbians were detained for a month
and interrogated in a military camp, the International Gay
and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported.
This week, Human
Rights Watch, in an open letter to the Maoist
government, called for an end to antigay violence in Nepal.
"As Nepal tries
to recover from a decade of conflict, its leaders
should make it clear that no one's rights are disposable,"
said Jessica Stern, a researcher in Human Rights
Watch's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights
for their sexuality and forcibly recruiting children
are simply unacceptable in a new Nepal."
adversity, the Blue Diamond Society continues to make
strides for Nepal's growing gay community. The group
has launched a weekly newspaper with editions in
English and Nepali and plans to sponsor an LGBT film
festival in May at Kathmandu's City Hall. (Hassan Mirza,