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Nepal’s Festival of Cows marked by LGBTI march for equal rights

Nepal’s Festival of Cows marked by LGBTI march for equal rights

Nepal’s LGBTI community took to the streets for the fifth year in a row on Monday to take part in the traditional Hindu festival of Gaijatra, or Festival of Cows.

Gaijatra is a traditional time when Nepalese people dress up, wearing flamboyant costumes to remember those who have died in the past year, and traditionally many people have cross-dressed for the festival.

Participants gathered for a march organized by LGBTI rights group the Blue Diamond Society at Basantapur, Kathmandu to toot horns and ring chimes in a colourful and noisy display.

This year’s theme for the march was ‘My country, My constitution, My rights, My identity: My Pride!’

Many hope that Nepal will become the first Asian country to allow same-sex couples to legally marry after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that ordered the government to end all legal discrimination against LGBTI people.

The government has recognized transgender Nepalese as a legal third gender, which is how transgender people have been traditionally viewed in Nepalese culture.

However efforts to include the right of LGBTI people to marry in a new Nepalese constitution have stalled several times despite cross-party support.

Participants in The Blue Diamond Society’s parade hope the government will heed their calls for equality and finally act to achieve the reform.

‘When we gather again next year, we hope we are able celebrate the new law,’ march participant Bipin Lamichane told the Associated Press.

Following the march participants held a candle light ceremony remembering those who have died in the last year.

Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has promised that work on the new constitution will be finished this year.