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Rise and rise of LGBT candidates in Nepal

world Updated: Nov 11, 2013 23:40 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Sixteen years after she fled home to escape the wrath of family members for being in a lesbian relationship, Laxmi Ghalan is back in her home district of Makwanpur in central Nepal.

This time the 32-year-old lesbian is not fleeing but reaching out to people seeking votes for herself and Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which has named her as a candidate for November polls.

Ghalan, who founded Mitini Nepal, an NGO working for lesbian rights, is among the few gender minority candidates contesting Nepal's second Constituent Assembly election due on November 19.

"It is important for us to be part of the highest decision making body in the country to get our voices heard," Ghalan said.

She is confident of victory and if she wins Nepal would get its second gender minority candidate in parliament after Sunil Babu Pant, who became the country's first gay MP after the 2008 polls.

Badri Pun, a female to male transgender who is contesting as a proportional representation candidate from Myagdi-2 also hopes to repeat Pant's feat.

President of Inclusive Forum Nepal, Pun, who has been nominated by Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), is the first Nepali to get a passport in the category of third gender.

They were a rarity in past elections, but candidates belonging to sexual minorities like lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) have been given tickets by several parties this time.

It could be due to pressure from Nepal's active LGBT community, which announced a list of candidates in July and decided to contest as independents if bigger political parties denied tickets to them.

Anti-poll strike
Ignoring requests from all sides, political parties opposed to November 19 elections enforced a nationwide strike on Monday.

The strike called by a 33-party alliance led by Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, a breakaway faction of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), has affected normal life in most parts.

Though the government had announced plans to foil the strike with adequate security arrangement instances of violence and arson have been reported from several places.

There were blasts in Udaypur and Chitwan, bombs recovered in Kavre and vehicles being burnt were reported from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Dolakha.

Police have arrested over three dozen pro-strike activists and in some places shop owners and transport operators have decided to oppose the strike by opening shops and running vehicles.