Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant opens 'revolutionary' gender-neutral toilet
Nepal's only openly gay politician has opened the south Asian country's first gender-neutral toilet.
The facility, which is labeled for 'third genders' and 'others', is situated in the southern area of Nepalganj.
It was unveiled by Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay politician and head of gay rights group Blue Diamond Society and the LGBT travel company Pink Mountain.
'This facility is meant to allow equal access,' said Pant. 'I’m proud that Parliamentary Development funds could support such a progressive initiative and show the world that we are a country that celebrates diversity and wants to offer equal protection to all citizens.'
Blue Diamond Society says it has received hundreds of reports in recent years from third gender and gender-variant members who have been harassed or faced violence when they try to use public toilets marked 'male' and 'female'.
Dozens of transgender, third gender and other Blue Diamond Society members attended the toilet opening ceremony and applauded what they see as a signal of progress for their city and their human rights movement.
'This kind of project is a revolution to respect gender-variant people in the most fundamental way – allowing them safe access to public facilities for their basic needs,' said Pant.
'I’m not sure whether the United Nations will recognize this move or not, but this is a challenge to them to recognize the unrecognized LGBTI population around the world – they could start with the toilets in their own offices.'
Nepal has had a legally recognized third gender since 2007, when it was ruled that gender identity should be based on self-identification.
Last week, it was announced Nepal will host Asia’s first gay Olympics this September.
Nepal has some of the most progressive attitudes to LGBT rights in Asia. The national consensus last year recognised a third gender, and earlier this year one of the country’s biggest sit com stars proudly announced his child’s gender realignment surgery.
In 2008 Nepal's Supreme Court ruled that it would end discrimination to LGBT people, including the right to marry. The law allowing same-sex marriage is likely to be part of the new constitution which is expected to be finalised before 31 May this year, following a six month extension.