Hindus in Nepal shun homophobia

Published: August 28, 2012

When a Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality three years ago, fury at the ruling was such that Hindu and Muslim groups typically at each throat’s united in opposition. However, recent plans by the government of neighboring Nepal to recognize sexual minorities haven’t seen a single complaint from the country’s religious organizations.

The Home Ministry of Nepal’s decision in May to provide citizenship to gays under the "others" category to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI)

community is just the latest in a series of successes Nepal’s movement has seen in recent years.

In an interview with Asia Times Online, petitioner and the country’s openly gay lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant said that it started with a December 2007 judgment by the Supreme Court directing the government to introduce laws providing equal rights to the LGBTI community and amend all discriminatory laws against them.

After the court’s decision, most human-rights groups and political parties openly spoke in favor of sexual minorities, and religious groups, often the loudest opponents of gay rights elsewhere, promptly accepted it, said Pant, sipping tea at a garden restaurant.

The judgment came days before a historic parliamentary bill which declared Nepal a federal republic and thereby abolished the Hindu monarchy. But Hinduism remains integral to the lives of the people and culture of Nepal. The thousands of temples, built during the period of monarchy, still characterize the country’s landscape.

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