NEPAL

Government Health Official Tells Gay Group Working on HIV Issues to “Find Something Better To Do”

 

Sir Elton John effectively summoned to meeting as project funder
 

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KATHMANDU, July 18, 2007  –  Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society (BDS) was told today to stop its ‘Care Support’ sexual health outreach programme in Dhangadi and “to look for something better to do”.

This is causing further grave concern over the level of homophobia that exists amongst the Government officials and NGO workers in Nepal, BDS says.

It was two months ago that BDS set up the scheme, funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation and Sidaction in France, because of the increasing number of those living with HIV in the Dhangadi area in the far west of Nepal.

The plan was to coordinate and provide care support to those with HIV and their sexual partners.

Since the scheme started two months ago, more than 15 people living with HIV have been sent to Kathmandu for further support, treatment and hospice facility.  The scheme dos not discriminate on grounds of sexuality, working with both the MSM and MSW communities, as well as TG groups.

At a regular monthly meeting organised by the District Public Health Office, BDS outreach educator Ram Awatar said he was astounded at what was said.

Krishna Bhatta, the Public Health Officer said that the “anus doesn’t have any sexual tissues, that’s why there is no chance of HIV/AIDS transmission” and that “there [are] no MSM/MSW/TG in Dhangadi, so I believe this Care and Support program in Dhangadi for MSM/MSW/TG is absolutely unnecessary”.

Then, Ms. Durga Shrestha from BASE, an NGO, told at the meeting: “If we allow this program in Dhangadi, this will promote homosexuality, which will pollute the entire society”.

It didn’t end there.

Santoshi Sharma, from women’s development, told the meeting that “people will copy the homosexual behaviour, so there is no possibility for this program to continue in Dhangadi”.

Bhatta then told the meeting that he would find out who was providing the funding.  I also need proof whether there are HIV+ people from MSM/MSW communities here,” he added.

Ram Awatar was then told that the donor providing funding for the BDS ‘Care Support’ scheme should come to the next meeting of the District Aids Coordinating Committee (DAAC) “we will discuss whether we should allow any program for MSM/MSW/TG in Dhangadi or not.”

Speaking in Kathmandu, Sunil Pant, the director of the Blue Diamond Society, said:  “We are not sure where Elton John is available or not to visit Dhangadi for the next DACC meeting.

“This is another devastating blow against MSM/MSW/TG in a week by government departments,” he continued.

“Last Saturday, five métis (effeminate males) were brutally assaulted by Nepal police for carrying condoms in a Kathmandu park.

“With such attitudes of Government, public health officials and NGOs, sexual health and HIV prevention and care support treatment interventions for MSM/MSW/TG is impossible.”

See Also:

Gay Community Reels as Métis Assaulted by Police  for Carrying Condoms.  Police in Kathmandu today stand accused of assault on ‘Métis’ (transgender people) in Ratna Park last night after it was discovered that the métis were carrying condoms.  (UK Gay News, July 15, 2007)

South African Justice Edwin Cameron Gives Hope To Nepal’s Gays.  By Diwas Kc.  Monday January 8 may have passed as a normal day in Kathmandu.  Yet, inside the Malla Hotel, new grounds were being broken.  For the first time in the recorded history of Nepal, a conference was organized to discuss the constitutional rights of sexual minorities.  (UK Gay News, January 15, 2007)

Gay Group in Nepal Gets Cash Boost From Elton John AIDS Foundation Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society (BDS) has been awarded a grant of £25,000 by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  The money means that the BDS will be able to continue its work with those suffering from AIDS for a further year.   (UK Gay News, September 7, 2005)

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Posted: 18 July 2007 at 14:00 UK time

 

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