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Will Gay Marriage Be Adopted in the World's Youngest Democracy?

OUT in the Himalayas

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

Openly gay Nepali parliamentarian Sunil Pant in conversation with Sam Cook, Communications and Research Director for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Sunil Pant, the first openly gay Nepali parliamentarian, is aiming to make Nepal the first Asian nation to adopt equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. He is also a strong advocate for a thriving economy of “pink tourism.” Here he talks about the hurdles that face him and his LGBT rights organization, the Blue Diamond Society.

On April 10, 2008, Sunil Babu Pant secured one of the five seats won by the Communist Party of Nepal (United) in the 601-seat assembly. In the previous year he had petitioned Nepal’s Supreme Court to demand the defense and legal protection of human rights of sexual and gender minorities and the abolition of all discriminatory laws and policies.

The Court ruling was a indication of Nepal’s radical political change: it declared that sexual minorities were “natural persons” deserving of protection against discrimination and ordered the government to come up with legislation guaranteeing civil rights for homosexuals.

A government commission was also to be established to study legalization of same-sex marriage and to make official documents such as identification cards and passports include a third option for a person’s gender.
Presented with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission -the organization that works internationally to end discrimination and abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. IGLHRC works in partnership with local activists to strengthen their capacity to confront human rights violations at home. With staff in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the organization connects partners within the broader human rights arena – including to the UN and regional and global civil society – to create visibility for violations; to monitor and document abuse and to respond to emergencies.
As part of its work IGLHRC annually presents its Felipa de Souza Award – in recognition of courageous and vital activism – to courageous individuals and organizations working for the fundamental human rights of all people. In 2007 Sunil Pant was honoured with this award on behalf of his organization Blue Diamond Society (Nepal).