Nepal's gays caught between rapes and raids 
Sudeshna Sarkar (Indo-Asian News Service)
Kathmandu, August 11 
As Kathmandu Police raided eight so-called massage parlours in the 
capital and arrested six couples caught in compromising positions, 
another branch of the force was rounding up homosexuals.

While 31 people were arrested in the massage parlour raids Monday, 
39 gays were picked up from streets, discos and restaurants and put 
behind bars. By Tuesday evening, at least one person arrested in the 
parlour raids was released but none of the gays. Not even a detainee 
who had a finger reportedly broken in a baton blow by the police.

Sunil Pant, founder and president of Blue Diamond Society, a 
Kathmandu-based gay rights organisation, fears this is part of a 
concerted effort by militant anti-gay groups and individuals to 
stamp out the recently started gay movement in Nepal.

"In the patriarchal Nepalese society, any male person not conforming 
to accepted norms of masculine behaviour is deemed unworthy and 
available for exploitation," says Pant.

"Though Nepal has a significant homosexual population, the community 
has been in the closet for a long time due to social stigma and 

"Their invisibility lifted to some degree since 2000 when Blue 
Diamond Society started working with male homosexuals on HIV and 
AIDS as part of the AIDS control policy of the government.

"But now there is a backlash from a section of society still holding 
on to a mediaeval mindset."

Pant cites a string of incidents where 'metis', or men with feminine 
characteristics, have been subjected to abuse and violence. Many of 
these incidents, he adds, show active participation by government 
agencies, like police and security forces.

One of the most serious attacks occurred last week when a gay was 
abducted from the streets in the early hours of the morning, raped, 
slashed in the throat and left bleeding on the road. He is still in 
hospital. No one has been arrested.

In June, three men were picked up and taken to a guesthouse where 
they were raped at knifepoint and assaulted. Though police arrested 
two people, the case is still pending.

For Pant, as worrisome as the attacks is a writ petition filed by a 
lawyer last month. The petition is against the government, alleging 
it is allowing people's morals to be corrupted by not closing down 
Blue Diamond Society. The Supreme Court, where the writ petition as 
been filed, has asked the government to show cause why the society 
should not be closed down.

Pant says the attacks against the gay community are being monitored 
by several foreign diplomats whose governments are concerned at the 
anti-gay, anti-liberal sentiments and government complicity.

Currently, he is trying to mobilise a signature campaign and is 
asking people to send letters to various ministerial and police 

"The government needs to stand up to its commitment to human 
rights," Pant says. "They (needs to) treat all Nepalese, including 
métis, with dignity."

--Indo-Asian News Service


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