Ms. Pinky Gurung, 40 years old transgender woman is the president of Blue Diamond Society, Kathmandu, Nepal. The Blue Diamond Society (BDS) was established in 2001 which was originally named “पुरुस प्रजनन संस्थान-Male Breeding Institute” with an initiative taken by Mr. Sunil Babu Pant, Founder President of BDS. The institute started with 7 members working together but the true purpose of the institute was hidden so as to prevent themselves from the criticism of the conservative society. Ms. Pinky says that the society still thinks that LGBTI people are a misfortune to the society and are treated with harsh words.
Despite the criticism, the judgements, they went on. Not forgetting what their purpose was. Thus they got their first fund. The first fund to BDS was provided by Family Health International (FHI) in 2001 as Rapid Response Fund, a four months project and was utilized in conducting HIV/AIDS awareness program and human rights campaign. The BDS, now has its branches in 40 different districts of Nepal with more than 850 members. The organization has engaged itself in various social movements such as earthquake relief movement, cleanliness campaign, raising their voice for human rights, conducting awareness programs, and many more. Even though they raise their voice for the collective welfare of the society, their own needs and demands are buried deep down to be understood by the people in general.
Ms. Pinky says that homosexual attraction is a natural process. This process was observed in her when she was 9 years old but she had no realization of the changes. She tried to deny the changes as she was getting attracted to males. But, as she grew up, she became more aware of this fact and started accepting the unusual changes occuring in her life. At an age of about 18, she used to go to Ratnapark and meet people like her and share her thoughts and experiences.
Society at that time was still not able to accept people like her. So, she gave her first interview in shadow but made sure that her family members watched the interview; they were unaware of her different sexual orientation. Though the changes weren’t visible through her physical appearance, her family heard her voice and then came to know about her. This gave Ms. Pinky a confidence to accept her personality. She started to change her getups from a complete male to a tomboy to a complete female clothings. She said that people used to talk about her when she used to pass in a female getup. So, she started to regularly cross their paths and then eventually they got habituated and stopped talking.
What kinds of rights are there for LGBTI?
The Constitution of Nepal, 2015 has protected the rights of LGBTI in the three different clauses.
Clause 12: The right to have a citizenship with the gender they are identified with.
Clause 18: Prohibition from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by the state or by anyone.
Clause 42: Right to Social Justice and protection.
Does the Government of Nepal issue budget for the LGBTI in BDS?
The yearly budget issued for the LGBTI in Nepal is Nrs. 6,00,000 which is not enough for the total of 850 members. The World Bank used to provide monetary support for the HIV campaign but now they are left with only few supporters.
The building of Blue Diamond Society was build with a budget of 35 lakhs in 2008.
How are the LGBTI issued identity by the nation?
The LGBTI are issued citizenship with their gender identified as others. But, the problem we face is that the employees working in this sector do not have a complete knowledge of the process and ask for unnecessary documentations and doctor certification to prove that we are one of the LGBTI.
Currently, there are 200 LGBTI citizenship certified in Nepal but its been more than two decades I have not yet got a citizenship as Ms. Pinky Gurung, a trans-woman but am bound to live as Mr. Sanjiv Gurung, a male personality I was born with.
What are the problems that you face in case of Reproductive health?
Our society is not yet able to accept homosexual marriage. People like us are forced into heterosexual marriage which results in cases like marital rape and unwanted conception. This leads to mental health problem and problem of personality development.
We are also not given child adoption right so that we could make our own family.
What problems do LGBTI face when making a visit to doctor?
We do not feel secure even with doctors. Most of us try to hide our identity as an LGBT. It is because of the unnecessary and bitter queries raised by the doctors and the type of exposure they demand from us. We feel demotivated. Even the hospitals do not distinguish LGBTI as a gender and have no options other than male and female.
What other organizations support Blue Diamond Society?
The Global Fund provides regional grants to support in conducting HIV prevention programs. Other NGOs and INGOs supporting us are Norwegian Embassy, Save the Children and OSF. The funds are raised to conduct program advocacy events etc.
How do you celebrate LGBTI day in Nepal?
May 17 is celebrated as LGBT day worldwide and even in Nepal. The other festival we celebrate is Nepal Pride which is a pride parade and coincides the Gaijatra festival in Nepal. This year, we had a title Miss Pride where one thousand TGs participated.
What is the pedagogic provision on LGBTI?
The subject on transgender is included in the pedagogy of class 6,7 and 8 but the teachers are not well aware and confident on the subject. Hence, BDS is conducting schooling programs to help teachers.
What job opportunities are the LGBTI more involved in?
Most of the LGBT are attracted towards glamour, modeling, politics, sports and army. One of our friends, Ms. Anjali lama is a renowned model in India. But in the government sector, male and female are provided opportunities but the people like us are not given any place and even if we do get into government posts, false allegations are put on us and thrown out. We lack a protective environment.
What are the provision of toilet/ washroom for LGBTI in Nepal?
There is a toilet named “लैंगिक मैत्री-Sexual Friendly” at bhadrakali, Kathmandu but inside it is again categorized as male and female. Nepalgunj and Bardia has separate toilet for third gender.
Are there any hospital services for transplanting sexual organs in Nepal?
There are clinics which provide breast transplant surgery but for sex change operation, we travel to India. In Nepal, we have more than 70 of us who have done sex change surgery.
What is the census record of LGBTI in Nepal and world?
There is no such census record done by Nepal but according to our record, there are more than 9 lakhs LGBT in Nepal and it constitute 8-10% of the LGBT population in world.
What message would you like to give to our society?
I would like to say is that LGBT are also a part of our society. No nation can develop by dominating the minority. Even the minority can make a great impact and our nation should realize this fact. Discrimination, elimination and discard of minority population will result in the loss of the country. So communal confirmation must be in the field of class, religion and sex.