Activists arrested in Nepal in homophobic atmosphere
Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base
On the night of 9 August at about 10.30pm, 39 members of Blue Diamond Society (BDS), a gay rights and HIV prevention organisation in Nepal, were arrested and taken to Hanuman Dhoka Police Station in the centre of Kathmandu.
First reports as HTB went to press said they were being detained without food and had been treated inhumanly. Sunil Pant, Director of BDS issued a statement saying: “We are very concerned. They were arrested along with other people from different occupations and this is against the human rights. The inhuman behaviour by the police is not only in arresting but also brutally beating up the arrested MSMs [men who have sex with men], which is against any principles.
“Thus, we request His Majesty’s Government of Nepal to release our captured members without any conditions. Basically, Blue Diamond Society is involved in purely promoting human rights and HIV awareness among sexual minorities in Nepal without causing harm to anyone, thus we request HMG of Nepal and the other related organisations not to cause any harm which may affect our members’ basic human rights and not to repeat this kind of any activity in the future.”
Nepal has an appalling record of official and unofficial homophobia. A fundamentalist has recently brought proceedings in the Supreme Court of Nepal against the government calling on it to close down BDS as illegal and immoral. Observers don’t know if the arrests were inspired by that writ.
Mauro Guarinieri, Chair of the European AIDS Treatment Group, has circulated a statement to activists in several countries saying: ”Please notify Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in your country. Please take what steps you can to put pressure on the government of Nepal to make sure these people are released safe and sound.”
As we went to press we heard that the 39 members of Blue Diamond Society have now been released on bail.