Last edited: August 23, 2004

Nepalese Gay Prisoners Released, August 23, 2004

By Ben Townley, U.K.

Thirty-nine members of a gay rights group who were arrested in Nepal to the shock of international human rights groups have been released on bail, and many have spoken of the violence directed at them during police custody.

The mostly gay and transgender people were arrested on Aug. 9 while at a club in Kathmandu.

The arrests followed ongoing accusations of anti-gay attacks from the government and police force in Nepal, as well as a threat to close the Blue Diamond Society (BDS)—a gay rights group that offers information on HIV/AIDS—for promoting homosexuality.

Since the release, the chief of the BDS has issued a statement recounting some of the attacks that took place during the incarceration.

He said that at least one person was beaten by police so badly that he needed medication, while another was attacked after accusing the officers of allowing a journalist to film them in their cell.

Additionally, he said in a statement Monday that group members were verbally abused by the officers, who also threatened to shoot them, throw acid in their face and keep them imprisoned for the long term. Some of the illiterate members of the group were also forced to sign statements without having them explained.

The case has sparked international criticism of Nepal, with the Human Rights Watch condemning the government for allowing attacks to take place.

“The Blue Diamond Society has faced harassment from the Nepalese government as they defend the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of society,” Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch said earlier this month.

“In a context of an escalating civil war, respect for the rule of law is steadily eroding in Nepal,” he added. “Nepalese authorities must show their commitment to ensuring basic rights for all people without discrimination.”

All 39 detainees were released on bail (at approximately $500 each), and have been ordered to attend court on Sept. 20 to face charges.

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