With the theme of “My Friends and Family Celebrates Me”, Blue Diamond Society (BDS) hosted its annual Gaijatra LGBTI Pride March on August 8, 2017, at Kathmandu, Nepal. Honorable Minister Asha Koirala, Ministry of Woman, Children and Social Welfare inaugurated Pride March by raising a rainbow flag and colorful balloons, in support and solidarity for LGBTI citizens of Nepal. Honorable Minister joined hundreds of LGBTI people from across the country, family members, friends and allies of LGBTI people together with political leaders, diplomats, civil society members, media and students. On May 17, BDS has initiated “Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay (PFLAG)” campaign during International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), 2017 with an aim to bring all allies of LGBTI people together for wider social awareness, acceptance & visibility of LGBTI people in Nepal.
The pride march started from Thamel, touristic area at the centre of Kathmandu valley and ended at Basantapur Durbar Square. During the pride march, hundreds of participants rallied with colorful rally signs, balloons, costumes of diverse ethnic groups and displayed lot of energy and happiness. Nepali LGBTI activists were seen proud and elated with the support from the government of Nepal and were rejuvenated with the presence of Honorable Minister during the pride march.
BDS, Nepal’s leading LGBTI organization, has been celebrating Gaijatra Pride march every year since 2004 to create awareness and advocate for the rights and well-being of sexual and gender minority communities of Nepal. This annual festival has become one of BDS premier events and draws crowds of local supporters as well as tourists, to join in the fun and enjoyment of the festivities. The festival of “GaiJatra” is one of the oldest and most unusual of the many festivals celebrated by the Hindus/Buddhists of Kathmandu Valley.
Falling on the day after Janai Purnima, the full moon day of August, Gaijatra is a day for remembering those who have died in the past year. In addition to praying for their departed loved ones, family and friends of the deceased commemorate them in great processions. In keeping with Gaijatra tradition, activists and other participants of the 14th annual Gaijatra LGBTI pride march lit the candles to commemorate the loved ones who passed away in the year 2073/74 BS (2016/17 AD). BDS and their allies offered tribute to some of the renowned LGBTI people and activists who passed away last year. This included special homage for Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag and LGBTI activist; Nilu Doma Sherpa, LGBTI activist and film maker, Mamata CK, National Player of Nepal.
The commemoration of Gaijatra LGBT pride march was supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy and Save The Children Nepal under the Multi-country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme (MSA), in which APCOM acts as regional sub-recipient.
Header image caption: Manisha Dhakal, Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society (second from the left), Minister Asha Koirala of Nepal’s Ministry of Woman (third from the left) and many other LGBT activists and ally marching with the rainbow flag
The article is originally authored by Manisha Dhakal, Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society.