Last edited: January 02, 2005

First Gay Weekly to be Launched in Nepal

Indo-Asian News Service, January 2, 2005

Nepal’s first gay weekly, highlighting issues affecting the country’s burgeoning gay community, will hit the stands in the third week of January.

The eight-page Blue Diamond Weekly in English and Nepalese, funded by the British embassy, aims to sensitise locals about the gay community.

It is being launched by Blue Diamond Society, an NGO that was founded in 2001 by Nepalese gay rights activist Sunil Panta to disseminate information about the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS through unprotected same gender sex and provide a voice to a community that alleges persecution by family members, employers and even police.

The Blue Diamond Society complains that its members are rounded up by police and beaten up. It is currently facing a case filed by a lawyer, who wants the government to shut it down.

Nepalese lawyer Achyut Prasad Kharal last year filed a public interest petition in the Supreme Court against the Government and the Home Ministry, accusing them of abetting immoral activities by permitting the society to function.

The suit is to be heard on January 18, just days before the first copies of the gay weekly roll out.

Sunil Panta admits the case will affect the society as well as the weekly.

“Though the Home Ministry has asked the court to dismiss the case, once the court gives its verdict, there could be a crackdown on the society’s activities,” he says. “But a weekly is the best way of reaching out to local people.”

The weekly, which plans to have its own website, would be distributed free among grassroot organisations and schools.

“It is not going to be explicit or controversial,” Panta says. “The issues are those that have been marginalised and need to be focused on like sexuality, minorities, HIV/AIDS and people living with AIDS, rights of all people, stigma and discrimination.”

There would also be personal stories and an agony aunt column and some of the staple columns of non-specialised magazines like recipes, beauty tips and even how-to, like “how to remove pickle stains from your pants.”

Last year, the Blue Diamond Society was honoured by a gay rights organisation in Thailand for its pioneering work in Nepal. Since then, the society has developed its ties with Thai activists and institutions.

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