Last edited: August 12, 2004

Gays Rounded Up In Nepal, August 11, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

Katmandu—Police in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, have arrested 39 gay men in what is viewed as an attempt to silence growing demands for gay rights in the tiny Himalayan country sandwiched between China and India.

The 39 were rounded up from streets, clubs, and restaurants, and hauled off to jail. One of those arrested reportedly suffered a broken finger when hit by a police baton but has been refused medical treatment.

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. (story)

The march was organized by the newly formed Blue Diamond Society, a Katmandu-based gay rights organization. The group’s founder and president, Sunil Pant, said Wednesday that he fears this is part of a concerted government plan to stamp out the burgeoning gay movement in Nepal.

“In the patriarchal Nepalese society, any male person not conforming to accepted norms of masculine behavior is deemed unworthy and available for exploitation,” Pant told the Indo-Asian News Service.

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

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

A week ago a gay man 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 and may never go to trial.

Last month a conservative lawyer filed a writ in the Supreme Court alleging the government is allowing people’s morals to be corrupted by not closing down Blue Diamond Society. The court has asked the government to show cause why the society should not be closed down.

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