Sunil Pant (pictured), the Kathmandu-based founder of Nepal’s leading gay rights group the Blue Diamond Society, is running along with four other gay men in a public election for one of 601 seats in a new constituent assembly in the nation’s first vote since 1999. It takes place on April 10.
Pant and the other gay men say they hope to “shatter taboos” in the nation. Said Pant: “It is a prejudiced society. We are standing in the elections to fight the discrimination against our community. This is a very symbolic approach to tell all Nepalis that we have equal rights. I feel sad and we feel excluded. As human beings we all like to be loved and respected. We are deprived of the opportunity to contribute to our society and nation.”
According to Reuters, “The five candidates have been fielded by the Nepal Communist Party (United), a junior partner in the ruling alliance. There are already signs the taboo may be beginning to lose its grip. In December, the Supreme Court ordered the government to end discrimination against gays and guarantee sexual minorities the same rights as other citizens. Pant feels he has a good chance of winning, saying there are hundreds of thousands of gay and transgender voters across the country to whom he will appeal.”