Society discriminatory against sexual minorities

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Nov 22, 2014-

In a survey conducted jointly by the Blue Diamond Society, UNDP and the Williams Institute of University of California Los Angeles, 60 percent of the around 1,200 respondents from gender and sexual minorities said they have faced abuse and discrimination in at least one setting.

According to the assessment entitled, ‘Surveying Nepal’s Sexual and Gender Minorities: An inclusive Approach’, 23 percent of the respondents reported being denied of service in health care settings. An equal percent of responders said they have been physically abused by police personnel either on streets or at police stations. Verbal harassment was described to be the most usual form of abuse the community faced, with 42 percent saying that it was common in stores, 40 percent in public transportation and 16 percent in schools.

Bhumika Shrestha, an LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual) rights advocate, says the figures and forms of discrimination do not surprise her. “The reality could, in fact, be harsher because we are not able to talk to every member of the community and listen to their stories. If vocal people like us are not immune to discrimination, the suffering of the voiceless must be unimaginable,” says Shrestha.

The Williams Institute report says those who did not identify as third gender and acted in gender-conforming roles were less likely to report being discriminated against. In clinics and hospitals, those who openly identify as members of the LGBTI community speak of being dismissed, with their complaints going unheard. “I know a lot of friends who have been referred to a mental hospital when they went for a check-up for a different ailment. The minute doctors realise that we are from a third-gender community, their behaviour changes and some hesitate to treat us,” Shrestha said.

President of Nepal Medical Association, Anjani Kumar Jha, rubbished the charges and said the hesitation the gender and sexual minority noticed in doctors must have been an expression of surprise and curiosity. “Our society is not well-acquainted with the realities of the gender and sexual minorities. This could result in changed facial expressions when a doctor comes face-to-face with a person who identifies as third-gender. I don’t believe that doctors have denied service just because a person is not of the conventional sex,” Jha said.

Spokesperson for Nepal Police, Madhav Joshi, refused to comment on the findings of the report.

Published: 23-11-2014 09:29

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