Open letter to Indian PM Narendra Modi by queer activist from Nepal

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Indian PM Narendra Modi with Nepal's PM

Indian PM Narendra Modi with Nepal’s PM

Honourable Narendra Modi,

PM of India

We, the third gender community of Nepal, are happy to extend you a hearty welcome to Nepal. The close bonds between the people of India and Nepal are rooted in the many ways our cultural heritage overlaps. One profound ‘developing-similarity between Nepal and India’ that makes us feel particularly proud to call India our closest neighbor was that on 15th April 2014, the Indian Supreme Court recognized “third genders.” Nepal’s Supreme Court did the same in 2007. Prior to this, we were forced to identify as male or female, despite the fact that these descriptive labels are inaccurate according to our gender, and as a result, we have been denied our basic rights.

Like many Nepalese, we in the third gender community are very excited and hopeful from your visit to Nepal of renewing and refreshing our long and familial relationship between Nepal and India, to the mutual benefit of both nations. That strengthening our ties will, in fact, reach to all levels, layers and aspects of the societies in Nepal and India, including third gender people. Democracy and development can be said inclusive and successful if that inclusion, participation and benefits are accessible and reached by those who are at the furthest margins of society, including the third gender communities.

We wish you very best for your successful tenure as Prime Minister of India that under your premiership every Indian citizen, including third gender, will be uplifted and they will have greater access to jobs, education, health care and decision-making process of India as an equal citizen of India. We hope you will also recognize the potential for Nepali third genders to work toward mutually beneficial goals in any joint development, and in economic cooperation with Nepal during your visit. There are many important issues that Nepal and India must sort out. On the other hand, we feel it is vital that third gender’s basic issues not be overlooked which are immensely important for third gender of both countries. For example, we would like to see that no insult, discrimination or abuse occurs at the border. Third gender people, due to the inappropriate or inaccurate legal ID card or passport face tremendous problems at the border crossing between the two countries. Such discrimination inhibits various kinds of commerce and cultural interaction that can serve to improve the lives of citizens in India and Nepal. Contemplating up on Buddha’s teaching: “…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” (Samyutta NIkaya v. 353), protecting third gender rights in both nations is good for the economies and development of both nations while respecting our cultural heritage (we believe that you are well aware of the fact that both Nepal and India share similar cultural heritage, which, not only acknowledge but also respect third genders, for example Shikhandi of Mahabharata).

We also request you to end Section 377 of IPC that criminalizes homosexuals and denies basic rights as human beings. In Nepal; we are so proud that we are so proud that openly gay person Mr. Sunil Babu Pant was elected to Nepal’s parliament in 2008; Nepal government started issuing legal ID for third genders as ‘other’, we are in the politics; we organize sport and other cultural festivals; in schools students are taught about diverse genders and sexual orientations; and public toilets are constructed in way that are accessible to third genders. It’s hard for us to imagine that India, the largest democracy in the world, still upholds this shameful legacy of British Colonialism.

There is so much we can learn from each other; while Nepal is definitely making more progress on ensuring third gender’s rights, there is much more to accomplish. We offer you this opportunity of your visit to learn from Nepal that you might return to India with the good practice of ensuring human rights of third gender people and shedding old, discriminatory colonial laws.

You no doubt will have a heavy schedule during your visit to Nepal, but if any opportunity arises we will warmly extend our invitation to you and would be thrilled to meet, welcome and ‘blessing’ you in person. We would be honored and delighted to liaison with your government and hope this letter will serve to open lines of communication.

We wish you safe travel and truly fruitful visit to Nepal. Welcome once again to the land of inspiration and realization of hope.

Sincerely,

Pinky Gurung
President
Blue Diamond Society
Nepal

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