Sunil Babu Pant stands in front of the new gender-inclusive public toilet in Nepalgunj.
This afternoon, Asia’s only openly-gay federal-level politician and director of Nepal’s first LGBTI rights organization Blue Diamond Society, Sunil Babu Pant, unveiled the country’s first gender-inclusive public toilet. The facility was constructed using Pant’s Parliamentary Development Fund, an allotment given to each Member of Parliament annually for development projects around the country.
Labeled for “third genders” and “others,” the facility sits in a small compound next to male and female public toilets in Bhageshwori Park in Nepalgunj.
The unveiling ceremony took place today at 1PM. Dozens of transgender, third gender, and other Blue Diamond Society members attended and applauded what they see as a signal of progress for their city and their human rights movement.
The municipality of Nepalgunj granted the land for the facility. At the inauguration program, the chief of the District Public Health Office, the undersecretary from the Ministry of Health and Population in Kathmandu, and representatives from UNDP and Save the Children attended and spoke with media.
Sudip Bhatta, regional coordinator for Blue Diamond Society in Nepalgunj, “some cities even have special places for pets to go to the bathroom. This project shows that all people deserve to be treated better than animals, and on equal footing with fellow humans.”
Blue Diamond Society has received hundreds of reports in recent years from third gender and gender-variant members who have been harassed or faced violence when they try to use public toilets marked “male” and “female.”
“This facility is meant to allow equal access,” explained Pant. “I’m proud that Parliamentary Development funds could support such a progressive initiative, and show the world that we are a country that celebrates diversity and wants to offer equal protection to all citizens.”
Pant hopes that this facility offers greater accessibility to all people, including other populations who are marginalized and cannot easily access public facilities, such as people with disabilities.
“Revolution doesn’t have to be violent like Nepal has seen for so long,” says Pant. “This kind of project is a revolution to respect gender-variant people in the most fundamental way – allowing them safe access to public facilities for their basic needs. I’m not sure whether the United Nations will recognize this move or not, but this is a challenge to them to recognize the unrecognized LGBTI population around the world – they could start with the toilets in their own offices.”
Nepal has had a legally-recognized third gender since 2007. The Supreme Court decision in Pant v. Nepal determined that gender identity, in accordance with the Yogyakarta Principles, should be based on self-identification. Over the last five years, Blue Diamond Society has been advocating for the rights of all LGBTI people. The organization has been working with the government to implement the third gender category, including on citizenship ID cards.
For more information, please visit: http://www.bds.org.np