Last edited: July 31, 2004

Nepal Gay Group Threatened with Closure UK, July 28, 2004

Ben Townley, UK

An international human rights body has called on Nepal’s government to dismiss an attempt to shut down the country’s leading gay rights groups.

Human Rights Watch says the threatened closure of the Blue Diamond Society (BDS) would go against the right to freedom of association and _expression, and could harm LGBT people in Nepal who rely on the support network.

The BDS offers advice and information for LGBT people on HIV/AIDS and the right to the acceptance of a sexually diverse community.

It is also attempting to pressurise the government into decriminalising homosexuality. Although there is no law against homosexuality in the country, legislation banning “unnatural sex” is often used to arrest members of the LGBT community.

The group is facing a shut down after a private lawyer petitioned the country’s supreme court calling for the BDS to be banned. The lawyer said that because homosexuality was criminalised, the group should be closed.

“In trying to stifle the voices of sexual minorities, Nepal demonstrates its indifference to basic rights of _expression and assembly,” said Scott Long, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.

“In trying to silence those who document police abuse, the Nepalese government shows its determination to punish the messenger.”

He added that attempts to shut the group and its HIV education wing down could “drive people at high risk even further underground, and only worsens the spread of the pandemic”.

This is not the first time the BDS has faced controversy. Earlier this month organisers say they were attacked whilst conducting a peaceful march to the country’s Prime Minister.

The protestors were said to have been beaten by local police officers during the march.

The government must now respond to the country’s supreme court within 35 days.

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