Nepal Releases Jailed Gays
August 23, 2004
By 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
New York City—39 members of a gay
civil rights organization have been released from a Nepal jail where they had
been held since August 9.
New York-based Human Rights Watch said Monday that the
men were released on bail Friday following an international outcry.
The men are members of the Blue Diamond Society,
Nepal’s only LGBT rights group. They were swept up in a series of raids on
August 9. A senior police spokesperson said the men were indulging in illegal
The men’s only crime appears to be advocating civil
rights for gays and educating the gay population in the tiny kingdom between
China and India about AIDS.
Human Rights Watch said that no trial date has been set
and the specific charges appear vague. It said that it will continue to
monitor the situation.
At the time of the arrests Sapana Pradhan Malla, a
spokesperson for Blue Diamond, said the roundup was meant to harass the gay
community. The jail in which the gay men were held for more than two weeks is
described by international groups as “deplorable” and “filthy” with
little ventilation and no room to exercise.
Last month, police forcefully dispersed a crowd of gays
who had marched on the Parliament building to deliver a petition for civil
rights to the Prime Minister.
The arrests also brought the condemnation of the United
Nations AIDS organization UNAIDS. UNAIDS said it “fully supports” the work
of the Blue Diamond Society, and conveyed its concern over the detentions to
the Government of Nepal.
The organization called on the authorities to allow Blue
Diamond to continue to provide HIV services in an atmosphere free from fear
and intimidation where the human rights of all are respected.
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