By Anna Jaffray
Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s only openly gay politician, organized the first LGBT sports tournament to be held in Asia for this upcoming September in Kathmandu. Pant is also the head of the Blue Diamond Society. According to Pant, nearly 200 players have registered. The Blue Diamond Society begins its formal application to the National Sports Club to gain official tournament status.
The teams involved will hail from five regions and participate in two weeks worth of sports, including football, cricket, martial arts, tennis, volleyball and athletics. The participants of the tournament will also be coached by renowned Nepali athletes, who are participating in solidarity with the LGBT community.
“The main aim of the tournament is to bring out issues of the LGBTs to the society and also promote healthy lifestyle, physical fitness and mental health,” said Pant in the Kathmandu Post.
Despite recent changes in LGBT legislation, acceptance for the LGBT community in Nepal is limited, so this tournament aims to bring attention to these issues of health, rights and equality.
Under the auspice of the Australian Sports Outreach Programme, the Blue Diamond Society received Rs 1.646 million for the event. Australia also hosted the Asia Pacific Outgames, Australia and New Zealand’s LGBT sports tournament, but Nepal’s games will be the first in Asia.
Historically, Nepal was a conservative, Hindu country. However, the recent independence from the monarchy and its swift transformation into a democratic country between 2005-2008 has garnered swift social changes for the small nation.
Most importantly, Nepal granted equal rights for all LGBT citizens in 2007, meaning the recognition of a “third-gender” on ID cards and legal marriage for all. Nearly ten percent of Nepal identifying as gay in a country of 30 million.
These recent changes in law have also made Nepal a destination for gay honeymooners. Pant operates an LGBT-friendly travel agency, called Pink Mountains, to cater to LGBT travelers looking for safe destinations.