Nepal to host first gay pride march: lawmaker

Nepal will this year hold its first gay pride parade, the country's only openly homosexual member of parliament told AFP on Tuesday.

Sunil Pant said he hopes up to 3,000 gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals from Nepal and neighbouring countries will march through the streets of the capital Kathmandu on August 25.

The date has been chosen to coincide with a centuries-old Hindu festival when Nepalese men traditionally dress up in women's clothing, and which has in recent years been adopted by Nepal's increasingly vocal gay community.

"We want to make this a truly international event," said Pant, a well-known gay rights campaigner. "Nepal has made so much progress on gay issues in the last few years, and we hope to spread hope and inspire others."

Two years ago, the country's Supreme Court ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee the rights of gays and lesbians after the Blue Diamond Society, a pressure group run by Pant, filed a petition.

Pant said the parade would feature live music and include elephants and horses dressed in bright colours, and would culminate with a candle-lit memorial service for victims of HIV and violence.

The festival of Gai Jatra, which falls on August 25, commemorates those who have died in the past year, although it is traditionally a colourful event, with young men dressing up and processing through town centres.

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