Arts & Entertainment
Nepal recognizes 'third' gender; gov't funds gay programs
by Rex Wockner
Originally printed 9/25/2008 (Issue 1639 - Between The Lines News)
A 21-year-old lesbian has become the first person to receive an official Nepalese national identity card listing the gender as "third" rather than "male" or "female."
Bishnu Adhikari received the designation Sept. 17 after refusing to accept a "male" identity card from the Kaski district administration office in central Nepal, where officials claimed Adhikari appeared to be a man.
"This is a landmark victory for sexual and gender minorities in Nepal," said the Blue Diamond Society, the nation's most prominent GLBT organization.
Meanwhile, the national government unveiled a budget Sept. 19 that provides funds to "accord special priority to solve the core problems of Nepali people relating to sexual and gender minorities" and to pay for "a common house for 50 people ... to live together for their socialization."
"This is such a great news that for the first time in Nepal's history the national budget have provision for sexual and gender minorities," openly gay lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant said in an e-mail.
"This (is a) very symbolic but very positive change of not just attitudes but also (of) helping marginalized and oppressed sexual and gender minorities towards ministering to the development and social/political change. We (would) like to congratulate ... Finance Minister Dr. Babu Ram Bhhatari for making the budget inclusive and historic!"
Pant, a well-known gay activist, was elected to Nepal's 601-member Constituent Assembly in May. The assembly is drafting a new constitution and also functioning as parliament during the process.
He was not elected directly, but was chosen by the Communist Party of Nepal (United) as one of its representatives when the party received enough votes to secure five proportional-representation seats in the assembly.