This past weekend LGBT activists from more than a dozen Asian countries met in Kathmandu to strategize for this summer’s meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from the Nepali government, including Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Riddhi Baba Pradhan, who said the gathering “proves that the common assertion that LGBT rights are incompatible with Asian values is false.”
In a video address, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon remarked that “far too many people and governments still refuse to acknowledge the injustice of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Nepal has been one of the more progressive countries in the region, adopting a new constitution that guarantees equal rights to sexual minorities, issuing gender-neutral passports for trans citizens, and, last October, launching a LGBT sports festival.
Sunil Baba Pant, who practically founded Nepal’s gay-rights movement in the early 2000s, said this meeting was important because it addressed issues specific to Asian LGBTs, including questions of identity: “Not everyone in the world likes the lesbian or gay or transgender labels, so we have to make sure human rights are for everyone.”