American gay icon trust to honour Nepal MPJanuary 19th, 2009 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Jan 19 (IANS) Fourteen years after the death of noted American gay rights activist Paul Monette, his memory lives on through his writing and his battle against homophobia, which has been continued by the Monette-Horwitz Trust the 50-year-old founded before his death due to AIDS.The trust, also a tribute to the novelist-poet’s relationship with lawyer-activist Roger Horwitz, who too died of AIDS, has this year chosen Nepal’s first openly gay lawmaker and human rights activist Sunil Pant as one of the recipients of the annual awards it instituted to honour individuals and organisations who have contributed significantly to eradicating homophobia.
“The heroic efforts you have made toward eradicating homophobia are being acknowledged this year and beyond by our humble trust,” the panel informed Pant, who was nominated to Nepal’s new constituent assembly last year by a minor communist party that is a member of the ruling coalition.
Next month, Monette’s surviving partner Winston Wilde, a sexologist and psychotherapist whose 2007 book “Legacies of Love: A Heritage of Queer Bonding” established him as an author, will travel to Kathmandu via New Delhi to present the award to Pant.
It is accompanied by a statuette and a stipend of $2,500.
Last year, the award went to Claude J. Summers, general editor of www.glbtq.com, the world’s largest encyclopaedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gay culture.
Pant is the founder of Blue Diamond Society (BDS), the first organisation in Nepal to champion the rights of the sexual minorities. The 35-year-old says he had no plan to start a gay rights movement but was compelled to do so after coming across growing cases of abuse, rape, blackmail by security forces and exclusion by family members and society.
While initially derided at home, BDS’ stature grew after it was chosen by British icon Elton John as the Nepal partner of his foundation that fights against AIDS, followed by the 2007 Felipe de Souza Human Rights Prize by the International Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission, which is often described as the Gay Nobel.
The historic election in Nepal last year, that saw the people put its centuries-old monarchy to vote for the first time and decide to abolish the crown, also witnessed the sexual minorities contest under the banner of the Communist Party of Nepal-United.
The growing gay rights movement in the conservative Himalayan republic was given a boost by the Supreme Court that recognised gays as “natural persons”, ordered the government to ensure them all rights enjoyed by other Nepali citizens and approved of same-sex marriages.
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