Around a thousand LGBTs marched through the streets of Kathmandu on Thursday for the 4th annual Kathmandu Gaijatra Pride march to demand equality.
This year’s event’s theme was ‘Our vote counts, our representation matters,’ and began with a rainbow flag raising ceremony at Sancha Kosh Bhawan followed by a march through the streets to Shanti Bhatika where a candle light ceremony for people who had died in the last year was held.
Organizers were happy with the turnout, declaring the event a ‘grand success.’
The Gai Jatra festival is a traditional festival that Nepalese LGBTs have adopted as their celebration of LGBT pride and identity and goes back hundreds of years.
‘The festival of "Gai Jatra" is one of the oldest and notable of the many festivals celebrated by the Hindus [and] Buddhists of Kathmandu Valley,’ organizers said prior to the event.
‘Some say the custom goes back more than a millennium, to the time of the Malla kings. Falling on the day after Janai Purnima, the full moon day of August, Gai Jatra is a day for remembering those who have died in the past year.
‘In addition to praying for their departed loved ones, family and friends of the deceased commemorate them in great processions.’
Nepalese LGBT rights group the Blue Diamond Society organized the event and used it to call for LGBT rights to be included in the country’s constitution and for the government to continue to issue ‘third gender’ documents for Nepalese people who do not identify as male or female.
Nepal’s Supreme Court directed the government to give LGBTs equality in all aspects of the law in 2008 with this supposed to have taken place by 2010.
However negotiations over a new constitution that should have provided all that, including the right to marry, crumbled in 2012, and the issue is unlikely to be resolved before the next Constituent Assembly election.
The election is supposed to take place on November 19 but it has already been postponed three times since Nepalese Prime Minister Prachandra dissolved the Constituent Assembly on 27 May last year.
The 4th Gaijatra Pride Festival was held with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Nepal.