Today’s GLBT Hisotry Month Icon is Nepalese politician Sunil Babu Pant. Born June 28, 1972, Pant was elected as a lawmaker in 2008. He is credited as being the first openly gay politician in Nepal. Pant also has a long history of advocacy and activism on behalf of the Nepalese GLBT community.
From Equality Forum:
Trained as a computer engineer, Pant received a scholarship to study in Belarus. It was there that he first heard the word “homosexual” and identified as a gay man. It was also where he was first exposed to entrenched homophobia, inspiring him to fight for equality in his home country.
In 2002, Pant founded the Blue Diamond Society. The group consists of more than 20 organizations and 120,000 members representing the interests of the country’s GLBT and HIV/AIDS communities. Leaders and members of the society have continued their advocacy in the face of threats of arrest and violence.
The Blue Diamond Society was party to a 2007 case that led Nepal’s highest court to declare that GLBT individuals were “natural persons” who deserve protection and civil rights. The court also ordered the establishment of a commission to study same-sex marriage as well as the addition of a third gender option on official government documents.
Pant was elected to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly as a member of Nepal’s Communist Party United. His legislative goals include equal justice and economic rights. He serves on a committee charged with rewriting Nepal’s constitution. In spite of his many accomplishments, Pant insists that his work is far from complete: “With our progress, however, is the awareness that so many more need to be served.”
In 2005, Pant and the Blue Diamond Society were awarded the Utopia Award, Asia’s leading GLBT honor. In 2007, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission bestowed the group with its Felippa de Souza Award.
Pant, who lives in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, recently founded Pink Mountain, a company that offers GLBT-geared travel packages to Nepal.
Below is an interview with Sunil Pant from the Action Equals Life project in which Pant talks about his own activism and political career:
- “MOP Sunil Babu Pant makes history in Nepal.” APCOM. 1 May 2008.
- Nelson, Dean. “Nepal ‘to stage gay weddings on Everest.’” The Daily Telegraph. 19 January 2010.
- Pokharel, Tilak. “In Conservative Nepal, a Tribune for the Third Generation Speaks Out.” The New York Times. 19 September 2008.
- Pant, Sunil Babu. “Sunil Babu Pant Address to the United Nations.” Gays Without Borders. 19 December 2008.
- Thottman, Jyoti. “Why Asia’s Gays are Starting to Win Acceptance.” Time. 24 August 2009.