Sunil Babu Pant, the first openly gay politician in the mountainous south Asian nation of Nepal and the head of the country's only LGBT rights group, is warning that the country is at risk of a dangerous backslide on LGBT rights inspired by similar reversals in India, Russia, and some African nations.
In an op-ed for the Nepali Times, Pant writes:
The Law Ministry, under the NC's Narhari Acharya, is trying to enact punitive laws that re-criminalise LGBT relationships, completely overturning previous Supreme Court decisions. After the first Constituent Assembly was dissolved in 2012, there is not a single person from the third gender community in the bureaucracy, ministry, parliament or any other decision-making level...
This new draft provision of civil and criminal codes prepared by the Law Ministry not only defines homosexuality, but also oral and anal sex among heterosexuals, as 'unnatural' acts. The definition of rape is narrowed only to women. The notion that only men can be rapists and only women can be victims comes from a deep-rooted patriarchal mindset. These notions seem to be inspired by conservative reversals in India, some western and African countries...
All Nepalis who believe in equality and tolerance must raise their voices. The right to justice of all marginalised peoples is under threat from a regressive state. They are going to be excluded, margninalised, discriminated against, criminalised and demonized.
Pant tells Gay Star News that the Law Ministry is preparing to push the measures through parliament after an attempt to do so in 2011 failed. The proposed laws would punish gay sex with three years' imprisonment, which is a tougher penalty than the one-year jail sentence attached to gay sex before it was decriminalized in 2007.
"We are really concerned about this attempt of taking Nepal back to draconian era after so much progress we made. Unbelievable that the government is going all against the Supreme Court decisions on LGBTI rights and other minority and marginalized people's rights in Nepal," he said.