Last edited: August 28, 2004

Nepal Releases Jailed Gays, August 23, 2004

By 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 activities.

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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