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‘Sexual minorities must contest polls’

Sunil Babu Pant, an openly gay member of Nepal’s parliament, was in Bangalore on a private visit on Tuesday.

THE 38-year-old parliamentarian told Deccan Herald that more people from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community should come forward and contest elections. 

“Even if they lose, it does not matter because society would take notice of them, know that they have received votes and  also the fact that these people can contest an election. 

The MP from the nascent democratic nation has had many firsts to his credit. He’s the founder of Blue Diamond Society, an NGO which addresses the needs and problems of LGBT community. 

Pant says he’s in Bangalore “to get away from the hectic schedule back home”. In reality, he just wants to avoid the animal sacrifices that are conducted during Durga puja. “The whole atmosphere  (in Nepal) reeks of blood and meat. Even though it is a family, fun kind of festival, this is the part (animal sacrifice) I don’t like. It’s a total escape from bloodshed,” confesses the ardent vegetarian. Coincidentally, the regional partnership meeting of LGBT community is going on in Bangalore and Pant has been invited to be a passive audience.

Born in Gaikhur village in Gorkha district, Pant did his schooling in the village. He was elected as a member of parliament in 2008 in the Himalayan country when he contested from the Communist Party United, a small political party, and won one of the five seats the party secured. 

Interestingly, the party got more votes from the 15 districts where Blue Diamond Society had a strong network. He recalls that his organisation (boasting over one lakh plus members) approached several political parties in 2007, when Nepal geared up for its first Assembly elections based on the mixed system of constituent Assembly adopted by the interim constitution. A mixed system meant people from marginalised communities like sexual minorities could also try contesting elections and seek representation in the new government. 

Pant’s election and his membership of the committee drafting the Constitution has been a morale booster for the LGBT community, not only in Nepal but also in the entire South Asia region. 

“In Nepal, a lot of young LGBT members are joining political parties, since the time I  became MP. Also, a lot of political parties have become aware of the community and they have realised that this is something they need to bring in to make the parties democratic and inclusive,” Pant says.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 4th October, 2011)


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