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Nepal’s most prominent crusader for equal rights to sexual minorities, Sunil Babu Pant, is among the record 278 nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Pant, a former MP and Nepal’s first openly gay politician, is one of the several gay rights activists and organizations nominated alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin who is known for his anti-gay stance.
“I didn’t believe the news at first, but when many said “it’s true” and sent emails of congratulations, it made me happy,” Pant wrote to HT from UK where he is taking care of his unwell partner.
The 42-year-old founded Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s biggest organization fighting for rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBTs) and is responsible for the 2007 Supreme Court ruling which directed Nepal government to grant equal status to sexual minorities.
These days LGBTs in Nepal can get their citizenship certificates, passports, voter identity cards and other important documents by enlisting themselves as third gender instead of calling themselves male or female.
According to Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), gay rights activists Igor Kochetkov from Russia, Frank Mugisha of Uganda and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association are also among the nominees.
All of them have been nominated by Norwegian MPs Anette Trettebergstuen and Hakon Haugli.
“I am happy that the Norwegian parliamentarians recognized the LGBTI struggle. We promote love and love promotes peace. That’s what the (nomination) means to me and all of us in Nepal,” he wrote.
Putin’s name has been proposed for the prize due to his role in preventing the US-led air strike in Syria last year. But a news report says his latest actions on Crimea could scuttle his chances.
Pope Francis, Pakistan’s young education advocate Malala Yousafzai and US whistleblower Edward Snowden are also among the list of “confirmed and possible” nominees given by PRIO.
The Nobel Peace Prize committee has stated that the number of nominations for this year—47 for organizations and 231---is the highest ever. The previous record was 259 for last year.
According to Nobel Peace Prize rules the names of nominees and other information about the nominations can’t be revealed for a period of 50 years.
The committee advises those proposing the nominations not to reveal names of nominees, but since there is no rule to prevent them from doing so, many names become public.