- Around 1,500 people took part in the parade, paying tribute to members of LGBTI community who had died in 2017
- Last month a transgender woman and her husband were issued a marriage certificate by a district office, a first in Nepal
- Country’s laws are silent on same-sex or transgender marriages and the legality of the union is unclear
Kathmandu, Aug 09, 2017: In an annual gay pride parade, members of Nepal’s gay community marched through Kathmandu Tuesday in masses wearing vibrant costumes and carrying rainbow flags and balloons.
The gay pride march is timed to correspond with the Hindu festival of Gai Jatra, which brings crowds onto the streets to pay tributes to those who have died in the past year.
Formerly, when Nepal was under royal rule, Gai Jatra was also a chance for people to criticize the government. It was an event where people were seen in colorful costumes satirizing politicians.
With context to Hinduism, the whole complex of Gai Jatra festival has its roots in the biblical age when people feared and worshiped Yamaraj, the god of death.
During the festival of Gaijatra, the cow parade was brought before the grief-stricken ruler. Then the participants began ridiculing and be-fooling the influential people of the society.
In recent years, the gay community has started following the festival to underscore its demands for equal rights.
More than 1,500 people who took part in the parade, to pay tribute to members of LGBTI community had died in 2017, including American artist Gilbert Baker who designed the rainbow flag that has become an emblem of the gay community.
“Every year we celebrate a pride festival to show that we want to be recognized in this society with our different identity, that we are a part of this society,” said Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society, a gay rights organization in Nepal, reports Deccan Chronicle.
Nepal has some of South Asia’s most liberal laws on homosexuality and transgender rights, nonetheless, members of the community continue to face discrimination and live in the shadows of society, say activists.
According to a report in Deccan Chronicle, Kirti Gurung, a 21-year-old transgender woman said, “The government has recognized us but should do more. People of the third gender like us should be able to come out in the open, society should accept us.”
Last month a transgender woman and her husband were issued a marriage certificate by a district office which is the first occurrence of its kind in Nepal.
However, the country’s laws are still silent on same-sex or transgender marriages and the legality of the union is ambiguous.