Bangkok/Los Angeles – In a recent survey of sexual and gender minorities in Nepal over 60 percent of respondents reported experiencing at least one incident of abuse or discrimination, and over one-third reported discrimination or abuse in three or more public settings. The research methodology and study was implemented through the Williams Institute and the Blue Diamond Society (BDS).
The survey attempted to take advantage of Nepal’s attempt to include a third gender category in its national census, the first such attempt in the world. Nearly 1,200 respondents were recruited by trained BDS outreach workers whose aim was to study the identity, demographics, and experiences of sexual and gender minorities in Nepal. The study participants came from 32 of Nepal’s 75 districts, spoke Nepali, Bhojpuri, and Maithill, were primarily Hindu, and included individuals from 150 caste and ethnic groups.
“This study documents the experiences of Nepal’s sexual minority community and is a critical foundation for the development of appropriate policies by the government,” said Sunil Pant, founder of the Blue Diamond Society.
“While Nepal is often cited as a progressive country in Asia having guaranteed equal rights and recognition of sexual and gender minorities through a landmark Supreme Court verdict in 2007, Nepal’s progress in protecting the rights of these minorities and implementing the verdict has been limited,” stated Edmund Settle, Policy Advisor at the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub. “This study demonstrates that specific anti-discrimination provisions which protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are lacking and often not enforced.”
The survey that reveals LGBT people in Nepal continue to face a wide range of obstacles as individuals and as a community. These challenges include widespread bullying in schools, lack of protection from discrimination by employers, paucity of programming to address the reproductive health needs of lesbians, and the lack of sensitive HIV healthcare for transgender women and gay men who are at exponentially higher risk of HIV infection than the general population.
Other key findings include:
- Over a quarter of the respondents had not worked in the past year with unemployment being the primary reason.
- Over half the respondents reported that their income was less than that necessary to meet their needs.
- Overall, 60 percent reported discrimination or harassment in public settings, 42 percent reported verbal harassment in stores, 40 percent reported verbal harassment in public transportation
- Overall one in four respondents reported being denied healthcare in a hospital or clinic. Almost 30 percent of third gender people assigned male at birth reported being denied healthcare.
- 41 percent of people with highly gender non-conforming identities reported physical assault during interactions with police officers.
- Among HIV-positive respondents, one third reported being denied healthcare, 1 in 6 reported physical abuse by police officers, and 16 percent reported harassment on public transportation.
“This survey helps form the basis for accurately conducting further research into the experiences of diverse sexual and gender identities, said Williams Fellow, Kyle Knight, who helped train the team that conducted the study.
The survey was supported by UNDP Regional Centre in Bangkok under the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme (MSA-910-G02-H) and the Norwegian Embassy, Nepal.
The full report is available at: http://asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/library/hiv_aids/surveying-nepal-s-sexual-and-gender-minorities–an-inclusive-app/