After winning a Supreme Court judgment that allows same-sex marriage and asks the government to make laws to protect their rights, the burgeoning LGBT community in Nepal has another cause to celebrate – getting their own “national anthem”.
The nine-minute-long song, now being shot as a music video, will be released commercially next month when the Himalayan nation observes its traditional Teej festival.
Regarded as a feminine festival during which women, young and old, dress up in red and dance and feast together in an act of solidarity, the event became open to transgenders after Nepal’s political parties and a former prime minister’s wife began to include members of the community in their invitations.
The song, written by a third-gender in her 20s, who calls herself Samikshya, combines the style of folk songs with modern elements that focus on the rising gay rights movement in the once conservative kingdom.
“It’s a powerful song that talks about the sufferings of the sexual and gender minorities in Nepal, their marginalization, stigmatization, lack of protection by law and lack of opportunity,” says Sunil Pant, the founder of the movement in Nepal as well as the Blue Diamond Society, the pioneering gay rights organization.
“It demands respect, identity, rights, dignity and opportunity.”
Once at the bottom of the social hierarchy with zero literacy and employment opportunity, transgenders are now becoming proactive and aware of the changes taking place in the worldwide battle for equality.
Samikshya’s song asks, “Where is my right in the new Nepal?”, referring to the work in progress to write a new constitution. The LGBT community has submitted their demands to the committee drafting the document, outlining what needs to be done for their empowerment.
It also refers to the World Health Organization calling homosexuality a natural condition and not a disease.
“The sexual and gender minorities in Nepal are calling the song their national anthem,” says Pant, the first openly gay member of parliament.
Blue Diamond Society, which helped Samikshya record the song, has also sponsored documentaries on the LGBT community in Nepal, gay beauty pageants and prides that are a clever mix of universal and traditional festivals.
This year, when Nepal holds elections, gay, lesbian and transgender contestants will be vying for more say in the government.