Nepal's capital hosts gay pride march

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The Independent Travel

Hundreds of gays, lesbians and transsexuals braved monsoon rains to hold a gay pride parade in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday, led by South Asia's only openly homosexual lawmaker.

The march was organised by Nepalese parliamentarian Sunil Pant, a vocal gay rights campaigner who rode through the city on an elephant followed by around 500 supporters, many of whom danced and played musical instruments.

"We want to raise our voices and ensure that third-gender people get the same opportunities as everyone else," said 21-year-old transsexual Karuna Adhikari, who marched in a flowing white dress.

"I've been coming for a few years, but this year's event is much bigger than others."

Pant said the event, attended by foreign ambassadors and tourists, was the first international gay pride march to be held in Kathmandu, although smaller parades have been held on the same date in previous years.

It was timed to coincide with the Hindu festival of Gai Jatra, traditionally a colourful event, with young men dressing up and processing through town centres.

Nepal is one of the more progressive countries in South Asia with regard to gays and lesbians.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee their rights after a pressure group run by Pant filed a petition.

A bill to legalise gay marriage is going through parliament.

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