THE fear of being banished by family and friends is forcing Nepal’s growing LGBT community to seek solace in online communication, mainly through Facebook and dating apps using ‘secret’ names.

Speaking from his office in Kathmandu, Parsu Ram Rai, deputy director of Nepal’s largest LGBT organisation Blue Diamond Society, said coming out of the closet is a huge challenge in a country where being gay or lesbian is not widely accepted as “normal”.

And even though Nepal’s LGBT community has constitutional rights, many are still hiding their sexuality and gender differences out of fear of being scolded by the general public.

“Sometimes they use abusive words, or derogatory words [towards LGBT people],” Parsu said.

“The constitution has issued a kind of wording [for the LGBT community], but it doesn’t make a positive trend. It’s only in the law and policies, and that hasn’t been implemented at a [societal] level.”

Parsu said in Nepal, family conflict towards LGBT family members is a common result from coming out to relatives.

“There’s conflicts from the families, their properties are labelled as forbidden, they are asked to leave home, they are forced to clean the streets, and all this leads to internal conflict.”

“Even lesbians are forced to get married.”

And for some LGBT youth, drastic measures are taken as an attempt to ‘cure’ them.

Medications and counseling are used by parents in an attempt to rid their children of their sexual and gender differences.

“For the treatment they say you need to take this medicine and maybe you’ll get cured, or they go for counseling,” Parsu said.

“One transgender lady was kidnapped and was taken to a rehab centre for many days.”

But the LGBT community, while under the disguise of secret names, are starting to use social media to interact and meet within their fellow community.

“Many people have started using Facebook under different names,” Parsu said.

“If I know a guy on Facebook is gay, I will chat with that guy and then that’s how we meet.”

Smartphone apps such as Grindr and Planet Romeo are also used as a way to interact within the LGBT community.

Christopher Kelly is a Western Sydney University student studying journalism. Currently he is in Nepal as part of the government’s Colombo Plan to gain experience in journalism.

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