In The News (49)

How Nepal’s Constitution Got Queered by Kyle Knight
WHEN NEPAL’S PRESIDENT signed the country’s new constitution on September 20, some minority groups raised black flags in protest; #NotMyConstitution trended on social media....... But for one minority group in the impoverished country of 27 million, there was a silver lining. Nepal became only the 10th country in the world to enshrine specific protections for LGBT people in its constitution. The path to constitutional protection for a group at times openly derided as “social pollutants” was neither linear nor predictable, and took a unique combination of courage and political wisdom. It is reflected in the rise of Sunil Pant, who in 2001 was an unemployed computer engineering graduate handing out condoms in a dusty Kathmandu park, and who seven years later became Asia’s first openly gay national-level elected official when he was voted into the Constituent Assembly — a 601-person chamber charged with drafting the new constitution. .....

Engaging the law was crucial

; Nepal was never colonized, and its central legal system is an expansive code combining civil and criminal law.

One-third of the 700-page original 1854 draft addressed the exchange of food and sex between castes.

A major revision in the 1960s modernized it, and introduced a shadow of a colonial-era sodomy law with a clause forbidding “unnatural sex.” Ram Krisna Timalsena, a leading law scholar in Kathmandu, says that the clause was probably included in part to distil multiple elements of the sex-heavy original code, and in part because at that time most Nepali lawyers had trained in India, where they became familiar with India’s colonial-era penal code and its anti-sodomy law. ......... Still, sexuality could provoke moral panic. When Pant attempted to register his “Blue Diamond Society” as an LGBT-rights nongovernmental organization in 2001, a government clerk told him to delete the word “homosexuality.” To circumvent this feedback, he instead called it a “sexual health and rights” organization.   ...... Meanwhile, Blue Diamond expanded its work amid an intensifying civil armed conflict. Many of its early constituents were “metis” — people identified as male at birth but who developed feminine identities and appearances. Some did sex work on Kathmandu’s streets. With frequent curfews, the metis found customers among security forces who patrolled at night, but also suffered violence and harassment from the armed men. In a particularly egregious incident, in August 2004, a police officer slit a meti’s throat after forcing her to perform oral sex. ........ As Blue Diamond’s ranks swelled and its visibility grew through events such as pride parades, Pant joined an increasingly active network of global LGBT rights activists. He was invited in 2006 to negotiate and sign the Yogyakarta Principles, the first document to interpret international human rights standards as they applied to sexual orientation and gender identity. Pant took the Principles to a lawyer to formulate a Supreme Court petition asking for full LGBT rights recognition....... In a society with a densely patriarchal legal system, where homosexuality was still not discussed openly, that was no easy task. There were only a handful of relevant international examples to draw on as well at that time.   ...... Hari Phuyal, the lawyer Pant convinced to take the case, told me that he read all of the case law he could find. Perhaps more important, he said:

“I spoke in the court with all of the different documents resting under my hand so the judges could see that what I was talking about was real.”

........ As Blue Diamond grew increasingly bold in fighting back against violence and demanding public visibility, its claims to an identity category gained currency.

The group embraced an ambiguity that allowed it to be both flexible and tactical.

....... three days after the police officer slit the meti’s throat in 2004, police arrested 39 Blue Diamond members and detained them without charge. A BBC article on the event referred to the detainees as “gays and transsexuals;” Amnesty International called them “transvestites;” the UN used “sexual minorities” and other international outcry ranged from “39 homosexual [men]” to “gendered males who are feminised.” ...... In 2007 when the court issued its judgment in Pant’s Yogyakarta Principles case, it ordered the government to take three steps: audit all laws and scrap those that discriminated against LGBT people; form a committee to study same-sex marriage legislation; and legally recognize a “third gender” category based on an individual’s own self-identification. Judicial precedent has few teeth in Nepal. But as an augur of public opinion, the case resonated well. It also propelled Pant to a new level of political legitimacy, representing an increasingly visible and popularly comprehensible minority. ......... In May 2008, when Pant arrived at the opening session of Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly, he was in some ways an unremarkable addition to what the UN country office at the time called “Nepal’s most representative elected body to date.” One third of its members were women; 49 were Dalit (so-called “untouchables”). Pant’s profile as a Brahmin male from the middle hills positioned him in the traditional ruling class.

Quietly, the gaunt 36-year-old had just become the first openly queer federal legislator in all of Asia.

........ He joined the committee charged with drafting the constitution’s fundamental rights chapter and began soliciting allies along axes of difference — people who had divorces or disabilities in their families, for example. ...... But perhaps his deftest approach was in his optics. In the initial draft, he had inserted “sexual and gender minorities” in a section on social protection, and “sexual orientation” in a section on non-discrimination. During a discussion on revisions, he suggested changing the word “order” to “gender and sexual minorities.” “The committee members actually applauded,” Pant told me, smirking. “And then they started using the phrase, whereas before they would mumble it when they spoke.” ....... There was similar resonance in compliance with the court’s 2007 orders. In response to the first, over 100 laws were identified that needed to be changed; then a committee issued its report in early 2015, effectively recommending the legalization of same-sex marriage. But neither gained as much traction as the third-gender category. By 2010, the Election Commission had added a third tick-box to voter rolls, and immigration forms followed swift suit. The 2011 federal census, a major bellwether for post-war social inclusion gains, included a third-gender category. ......... Capacious as it is, the third-gender category’s legal battle gained traction in part because it carried historical echoes of South Asia’s hijara culture. But it was also a powerful method because it allowed Blue Diamond to

advocate for inclusion on terms familiar to the sclerotic Nepali bureaucracy: via citizenship documents, passports, and survey data. Small administrative gains could be celebrated as major victories, uplifting spirits inside the movement and in a government quite weary of pesky civil society

. ......... Nepal’s new constitution fails on many minority rights. But it joins Bolivia’s and Ecuador’s in specifically protecting gender identity.
Engage PM Oli, keep pressure up: Delhi’s Nepal approach
India will engage with the new Nepali government while sticking to its message that the constitution needs to take all sections of society along..... Delhi has noted Nepal’s newly-elected Prime Minister KP Oli’s evolution from a position where he did not recognise the Madhes unrest at all to accepting, in agreements signed with his current allies, the need to amend the constitution to address concerns in Tarai-Madhes. It will closely watch whether these commitments are translated into action...... the government’s neighbourhood-first policy meant treating it as a priority, but it did not mean pandering to the neighbourhood and sacrificing Indian interests. ...... criticism that PM Modi’s neighbourhood initiatives were floundering, and there was a ‘surge of anti-Indianism’ and allegations of Indian ‘interventionism’ in capitals like Kathmandu...... India believes that over the past 20 days, there has been an evolution in Nepal’s political situation. There was a collective desire of the Kathmandu establishment to dismiss the Madhes agitation, but as ‘communal politics’ gave way to ‘competitive politics’, there is a greater willingness to address issues. The previous Nepali government tabled amendments, and

Oli has concluded pacts with both Maoists and a smaller Tarai party to address, through amendments, issues like proportional representation, political representation, and federal boundaries

........ “Before the constitution promulgation, Oli felt there was no Madhes problem.

The position he has today is not the position he had when the constitution was promulgated.

He seems to recognise there are grievances in Madhes and has committed to do something about it,” said official sources. But he will be judged on whether this is translated into action.

Nepal: Madhesis to continue protests as bottleneck at border eases
Some say despite the public announcement to continue protests, UDMF will carry on with token protests at border points and allow movement of vehicles to ensure adequate supplies enter from India.
‘भारत र मधेसलाई रिझाउन’ भन्दै राष्ट्रपतिमा महन्थ र खिलराजको नाम
सिटौला लाजिम्पाट पसेपछि विद्याको साटो अर्कैको नाम
प्रचण्डले राष्ट्रपतिका लागि मन्त्रिपरिषदका पूर्वअध्यक्ष खिलराज रेग्मी र तराई मधेस लोकतान्त्रिक पार्टीका अध्यक्ष महन्थ ठाकुरको पनि नाम आएको खुलासा गरेका हुन् । ..... उता एमाले उपाध्यक्ष विद्या भण्डारीले आफू निकटस्थहरुसँग प्रचण्डले आफूलाई राष्ट्रपतिमा समर्थन जनाइसकेको भन्दै हर्ष प्रकट गर्न थालेको स्रोतले बतायो । .....

सुरुमा प्रचण्डले हेटौंडा महाधिवेशनबाट प्रधानन्यायाधीशको नेतृत्वमा चुनावी सरकार बनाउने प्रस्ताव गरेका थिए । तर, चुनावमा नराम्रो हार व्यहोरेपछि एमाओवादीले उक्त निर्णयलाई गल्ती भएको भन्दै आएको छ ।

..... अहिले तराई मधेसमा भइरहेको आन्दोलनको ठाकुरले नेतृत्व गरिरहेका छन् । स्रोतले भन्यो-भारतसँगको सम्वन्ध सुधारका लागि ठाकुरलाई राष्ट्रपति बनाउने प्रस्ताव पनि आएको हो ।’ .... भारतले नेपालमा अघोषित नाकाबन्दी लगाइरहेका बेला खिलराज रेग्मी भारतको वृन्दावन पुगेका थिए । त्यहाँ उनले नेपाल र भारतबीच सुमधुर सम्वन्ध रहेको प्रतिक्रिया दिएका थिए । ..... तुलनात्मक हिसाबले महन्थ ठाकुर सादगी नेता मानिन्छन् । रेग्मीका भने परिवारजन डीभी, ग्रीनकार्ड लिएर अमेरिकामा बसाेबास गर्दै अाएका छन् । ..... पार्टीको भावी अध्यक्षका रुपमा समेत हेरिएका महरा अहिले सबै जिम्मेवारी छाडेर सभामुख बन्न तयार छैनन् । उनले उपप्रधान तथा गृहमन्त्री पाउनुपर्ने दाबी गरेका छन् । अन्यथा सभामुख नभई पार्टी महासचिवकै जिम्मेवारीलाई निरन्तरता दिने महराले बताएका छन् ।

फोरम लोकतान्त्रिक अध्यक्ष गच्छदारको गाउँमा आन्दोलन
गच्छदारले सपथ लिएसँगै दुहवीका थारु नेता खुसी छन्। थारु नेताले भने अब आन्दोलनको कुनै औचित्य नभएको बताउँदै आएका छन्।’चाडपर्वको पूर्वसन्ध्यामा आन्दोलन गर्दा पनि शान्तिपूर्ण गर्नुपर्छ,’ थरुहट संघर्ष समिति सुनसरी–मोरङका संयोजक मिलीराम चौधरीले भने । थारु नेताको बुझाई पनि गच्छदारसँगको असन्तुष्ट पोख्न दुहवीमा आन्दोलन चर्काउन थालिएको हो।

सुनसरीको दुहवी–भलुवाका थारु नेता जुनसुकै दलमा आबद्ध भएपनि अधिकांश गच्छदारकै निर्देशनमा चल्ने गर्छन्।

संविधानसभाबाट संविधान जारी हुदाँ काँग्रेस, एमाले, एकीकृत माओवादीका थारु नेता खुसियाली मनाएनन् । बरु आन्दोलनमा लागे।तर, अहिले गच्छदार उपप्रधानमन्त्रीको सपथ लिएसँगै थारु नेता आन्दोलन सकिएको बताउँदै आएपनि मोर्चाका कार्यकर्ताले आन्दोलनकै नाममा प्रहरीलाई निसाना बनाएर उछृङ्ख्ल ढंगले आक्रमण गरेको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ।यही आरोपमा प्रहरीले संघीय समाजवादी फोरमका एक नेतालाई सुनसरी दुहवीबाट प्रहरीले सोमबार पक्राउ गर्यो । .... प्रमुख जिल्ला अधिकारी रविलाल पन्थकै आदेशमा प्रहरीले अब आइन्दा प्रहरीलाई निसाना नबनाउने कबोल गरी छाडेको छ।’अब आइन्दा प्रहरीलाई निसाना बनाउँदिन् र आन्दोलनका नाममा उछृङ्ख्ल कार्य गर्दिन् भनेर कबोल गरी छाडिएको हो,’ इलाका प्रहरी कार्यालय दुहवीका प्रहरी निरीक्षक शिवकुमार पोखरेलले भने। गोस्वामीलाई प्रहरीले निसाना बनाएर सिसाको बोत्तल प्रहार गर्ने र धाकधम्की दिएर चन्दा आतंक मच्चाउनेलगायतका क्रियाकलाप गरेपछि पक्राउ गरेको जनाएको छ । ...... गोस्वामी संविधानसभाको दोस्रो निर्वाचनमा सुनसरी क्षेत्र नं. ३ बाट मधेसी जनअधिकार फोरम नेपालको तर्फबाट उम्मेदवार थिए।

ईस्लामी संघद्वारा आन्दोलनमा ऐक्यवद्धता
जारी मधेश आन्दोलनको आज ६०औं दिन र नाका बन्दको १९औ दिन ईस्लामी संघ नेपाल नारायणी अञ्चल शाखा वीरगंजले बृहत रैली निकालेको छ । आन्दोलनको समर्थन एवं ऐक्यबद्धताका लागि संघका अञ्चल अध्यक्ष मौलाना मुजाम्मिल फलाहीको नेतृत्वमा वीरगंज वडा नं. १७ बहुअरीबाट निकालिएको रयालीमा मधेशी एकता जिन्दावाद, मधेशमा हत्या, हिंसा र दमन बन्द गर, मधेशीसंग भएको सम्झौता लागू गर, मधेश विरोधी सविधान खारेज गर, जय मधेश लगायतका नारा लगाउँदै नेपाल–भारत मितेरी पुलमा पुगेर समापन भएको थियो । ..... सो रैलीमा

डा. मुज्तबा अंसारी, मौलाना अशरफ फलाही, प्रो. मुज्तुबा अंसारी, सचिव जिक्ररुलाह अंसारी, एस एम जहाँगस्त, ई. नुरुलहोदा, भोला अन्सारी, जमिल अख्तर

लगायत ईस्लामी संघ नारायणी अञ्चलका पदाधिकारीहरुको सहभागिता रहेको एस.एमजहाँगस्तले बताए । ........ नेपाल–भारत मितेरी पुलमा संघीय समावेशी मधेशी मोर्चा र संयुक्त लोकतान्त्रिक मधेशी मोर्चाका नेताहरु शिवचन्द्र कुशवाहा, जितेन्द्र सोनल, राजेशमान सिंह, शिव पटेल, प्रेम बाबु पटेल, प्रेमचन्द्र कुशवाहा, नेजामुदिन समानी, इम्दाद गद्दि, केदार साह, सुजित त्रिपाठी, कृष्णा प्रसाद कुर्मी, नागेन्द्र सिंह, ईन्जिनियर नुरुलहोदा आलम, पुर्वराज्यमन्त्री करिमा वेगम, ईश्वरचन्द यादव, पप्पु पटेल, महिला नेतृहरु पिंकी यादव, मुनी श्रीवास्तव, अनिता रौनियार, रेखा साह लगायतकाले मोर्चाका अगुवा नेता एवं कार्यकर्ताहरुले ताली बजाई रैलीलाई सम्मान गर्नुको साथै बधाई एवं धन्यवाद ज्ञापन गरेका थिए ।


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