Kathmandu [Nepal], August 12 (ANI): Echoes of brass band and rainbow flags returned to Kathmandu valley as Gaijatra Pride Parade makes a comeback after a major gap of three years.
The yatra has been organized in Nepal since 2001 in commemoration of dead sexual minorities and was earlier celebrated in muted form during the years 2020 and 2021.
This year the parade returned back after a long gap and marked the presence of Jessica Stern, the US special envoy to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ and the American Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry.
The 19th series of the Gaijatra Pride parade started from the Touristique Thamel area which marched through the inner alleyways of Kathmandu and reached the Army Pavilion. Thousands of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) people took part in the procession with excitement and cheers.
"I am extremely excited to take part in the parade. Whenever we had to organize a pride parade then we would have waited for Gaijatra but the outbreak of the COVID pandemic confined us to walls and we could not express our moments. With the settling of infection we again are here with the 19th edition, am really excited about it," Suraj Limbu, one of the participants of the parade told ANI.
Earlier, during the muted celebrations and hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 25 members of the minority community had either committed suicide or died untimely owing to COVID-induced problems.
The pandemic had compelled the minorities to go back to their initial days of hardships when such celebrations used to be organized only in closed or private venues. However, since 2002, the Blue Diamond Society has started organizing the event publicly to commemorate the LGBTQI+ members across the Nepal and world who passed away.
As per the organizers, the parades as such are held at the Gaijatra festival to respect and commemorate the LGBTI loved ones and to occupy public space in a way that speaks to Nepali traditions as well as to raise their voices for their rights.
"Those who had been in hiding about their identity are now able to come out and express themselves on this day. This Gaijatra festival has immensely cheered us," Usha Pariyar, another participant told ANI.
Having one of the progressive constitutions to grant rights and recognition to sexual minorities, Nepal from the last census of 2021 has started collecting data on LGBTQI+ as well.
Though the newly promulgated constitution of Nepal in September of 2015 has special provisions for sexual minorities, the group has been demanding to complete its implementation.
The government had promised to provide the group with citizenship on the basis of sexual orientation but the condition isn't that favourable when it goes into the implementation. The minorities have been voicing for same-sex marriage which they claim would give them a chance to live a life.
"Everyone should have the right to get married without any terms or conditions, whomsoever want to spend life with, that would be the main reason for the happiness. The Government also should understand the gratitude of this issue. Not legalizing same-sex marriage has indeed hurt our sentiment otherwise other regulations are fair enough when it comes to our treatment," Usha concluded. (ANI)