Nepal: IGLHRC Condemns Violence and Arbitrary Arrests

(New York, August 12, 2004) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) calls for an immediate release of the 39 Metis in detention and for a full and thorough investigation into the violent acts perpetrated against sexual minorities in Nepal. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned by the apparent escalation of violence against those whose sexual and gender identity and expression do not conform to social norms in Nepal, as well as evidence of persecution of human rights defenders advocating on their behalf.

Recent reports indicate that the Nepalese police continue to act with impunity by refusing to fully investigate the abuses that have been brought to their attention. Police in Kathmandu are reportedly detaining 39 Metis (transgender persons) in Hanuman Dhoka police station on charges of a spreading perversion, after having arbitrarily arrested them in a series of raids on restaurants and bars on August 7, 2004. These 39 Metis are members of the Blue Diamond Society, a human rights advocacy and support group for men who have sex with men (MSM) in Nepal. They have allegedly been held in detention without food and have suffered inhuman and degrading treatment by the police.

Nepalese authorities have an obligation under international law to respect the rights of individuals and groups of individuals to be free from discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture, as well as their freedom of expression. As a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Nepal is obligated to uphold these rights for all people, including those whose sexual and gender identity or
expression do not conform to social and cultural norms.

The most recent incident follows a string of documented persecution of sexual minorities in Nepal over the past few months:

  • On June 1, 2004: A violent rape and assault of two Metis occurred in Kathmandu.
  • On July 5, 2004: Blue Diamond Society organized a peaceful rally against police harassment which was reportedly violently interrupted by police.
  • On July 12, 2004: The Supreme Court of Nepal issued a show cause order to the Ministry of Home Affairs in response to a petition from a private individual calling for the Blue Diamond Society to be banned for "promoting homosexuality." The Ministry has not yet responded.
  • August 7, 2004: three men severely attacked a Meti (transgender person) in Kathmandu, cutting his throat with a knife and almost severing his finger.

According to Sunil Pant of Blue Diamond Society, "Nepal has traditionally had a large and significant homosexual population and many of them are gendered males who are feminized (Metis). They have hidden for a long time due to social stigma and oppression and have socialized only amongst themselves in spaces not generally known to the general public." Metis are particularly vulnerable to abuse, including physical violence, sexual violence, rape and increasing state-sponsored violence and oppression.

As Susana Fried, Program Director of IGLHRC notes "we are deeply discouraged by these acts of persecution, especially because the government of Nepal is a new one. Where we might have hoped for a new government to show a robust commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of all members of society, what we see is the opposite -- profound disrespect for human rights promotion and protection."

For more information, contact:

Susana Fried:
+1 212.216.1281
Sangeeta Budhiraja:
+1 212.216.1294