U.S. Embassy Youth Council, YUWA and Blue Diamond Society jointly organized a panel discussion on “Challenges and opportunities for Nepali lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens and overcoming societal homophobia” at the U.S. Embassy, Kathmandu where over 45 young people from various background have participated. Five activists of Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s leading LGBT rights organization presented in a panel about what being gay or transgender means, how it is not a choice or a lifestyle, how they are also members of families and citizens of the country, and the challenges posed by widespread societal homophobia and state hostility. Saurav Jung Thapa, Technical Advisor at BDS and also the current member of Youth Council moderated the panel.
The panel begun with the message from Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry about LGBT Pride Month (June) and the commitment of US Government to protect dignity and right of all LGBT people around the world. Mr. Secretary talked how the American diplomats are assisting local LGBT organizations and supporting local human rights advocates working to promote equality, create dialogue, and ensure protections for LGBT individuals around the globe to mark the LGBT Pride Month.
Mr. Basu Guragain, Project Officer at Pink Triangle Nepal presented on issues relating to stigma, discrimination and rights challenges faced by gay men. Also, President of the Board of BDS, Miss Pinky Gurung presented about the harassment and violence faced by Trans Gender (TG) and TG sex workers in Nepal. Similarly Mr. Roshan Mahato and Mr. Bharat Shrestha, National Program Coordinator and National Program Assistant at Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal respectively talked about how LGBT citizens are part of global human rights movement and are legally, politically and socially progressing towards achieving their visibility among general population in Nepal. The latter also presented on various public health implications among LGBT people and how their community is at greater risk towards contracting illnesses, especially HIV & AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). He stressed out the need for better public health interventions needed in this community since LGBT people were 18 times higher at risk of HIV & AIDS and STIs than the general population. The final presentation was from Mr. Kyle Knight, a researcher and journalist based in Kathmandu. He talked about legal, political and social achievements made by LGBT people around the world.
The question and answer round followed immediately after the panelists’ presentations, was the opportunity for the participants to present their queries, questions and confusions regarding the LGBT issues that the panelists talked about.
This program immensely helped the young participants to learn about the real situation that LGBT individuals are living in and how “normal” individual as themselves can play significant role in eliminating the root social, cultural, religious and political causes contributing to homophobia.