Nepal’s first openly gay MP, Sunil Pant has been credited as one of the driving forces behind his country’s recent path towards equality.
Pant is now a decorated humanitarian. He’s been awarded the Felipa de Souza Award and the Monette-Horwitz Trust Award. But his spectacular journey began with very humble intentions.
I didn’t plan in 2000 to start the Blue Diamond Society. I just wanted to meet other LGBT people and know more about the culture and problems, he said.
After meeting many LGBTs in Kathmandu and knowing the problems other LGBTs face in Nepal, like blackmail, rape, exclusion, abuse and more, I thought we can’t continue living like this..
In 2001, Pant formed Nepal’s first gay activist group.
The original aim of the Blue Diamond Society was to ensure equality and freedom for all regardless of sexual and gender identities. In the beginning we addressed our sexual health rights then slowly moved towards human rights, empowerment and visibility of our existence.
The organisation drew attention to the abuse of gay Nepalese.
The violence has always been there. It just appeared to many that the violence had increased since Blue Diamond Society formed. But the reality is that Blue Diamond Society brought the violence into public knowledge through documentation and reporting, Pant said.
Nepali society accepted the existence but didn’t respect LGBTIs equally. In the last two years the violence has gone down dramatically, because of the Supreme Court’s decision and because of our effective sensitisations to the society.
The BDS, together with other organisations, filed a petition in April 2007 with Nepal’s Supreme Court to recognise the civil rights of transgender people… create a new law preventing discrimination and violence against LGBT communities; and to require the state to make reparations to LGBT victims of state violence and/or discrimination.
At the time Nepal was undergoing the transition from a monarchy to a republic, following a decade of civil conflict which resulted in King Gyanendra’s abdication.
In a victory for equality, in December 2007 Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled the Government must enact anti-discrimination legislation to protect the country’s gay and lesbian population. The final judgment was presented in November 2008.
The ruling was remarkable and gave us a strong foundation to build our lives and stand to advance our rights, ensuring freedom, dignity and love. It’s a matter of great justice, Pant said.
The decision has also paved the way for same-sex marriage.
Nepal is going through transition and everything seems to move slowly. The seven-member committee has formed and just started working to study same-sex marriage bills in other countries. Hopefully they will draft the suggestion to make same-sex marriage law soon and give it to the Government to approve.
In the republic’s inaugural elections, Pant was named as a representative to the constituent assembly for the Communist Party of Nepal (United) in April 2008.
I attribute my election victory to LGBTI people and to the constituent assembly, he said.
I am sure my contribution will ensure, no matter how little it will be, a better constitution that guarantee equal rights, stable peace, green development and freedom to everyone in Nepal.