Nepal made history on Saturday (29 June) when hundreds marched through the capital Kathmandu to celebrate LGBTI pride.
More than 300 people donned colorful face paint, carried rainbow umbrellas, and waved flags according to local media.
Although Nepal has held LGBTI pride events in the past, this was the first march through the city in June. Hundreds of LGBTI rights supporters, for example, attend the Gai Jatra festival each year in August.
Queer Youth Group (QYG) and Queer Rights Collective organized the event.
‘I feel like these are my people. I know they won’t judge me and I can fully be myself here, attendee Jyoti Shrestha told South Asia Time.
‘People here don’t know the specific terms used and although they know we exist, there is still taboo surrounding this topic,’ Shrestha also said.
One pride attendee shared footage of an apparent confrontation with police on Twitter.
User Shubha Kayastha told pride attendees to take down their rainbow flags outside the designated area.
(A thread) Here is the other side of the Pride parade yesterday that most didn’t see. Police asked us to take off the flags we had around us before we leave restricted area in Baneswor. #PrideParade #Nepal @RukshanaNewa captured by @teentare pic.twitter.com/KIpIKRRa8n
— Shubha Kayastha 🏳️🌈 (@Shubha_a) June 30, 2019
LGBTI life in Nepal
The mountainous South Asian country legalized gay sex in 2007, and theoretically has laws to protect LGBTI equality. It also recognizes a third or ‘other’ gender marker in citizenship documents.
But, local activists have warned, that is not always the case in practice.
‘There has always been a romanticization of Nepal as being one of the more tolerant countries in Asia; however, the ground reality is very different’ organizer Rukshana Kapali told South Asia Time.
A new criminal code enacted in August last year fails to guarantee equal marriage, for example.