Sermon The Real Attitude of Communism towards Gays
“And a senior Maoist leader, Dev Gurung – former commander of the Maoist militia in the western part of Nepal, and now minister of Local Government – was quoted in December in the New Delhi, India- based daily The Asian Age as proclaiming, “Under Soviet rule there were no homosexuals in the Soviet Union. Now that they are moving towards capitalism, homosexuals may have arisen there as well. So homosexuality is a product of capitalism. Under socialism this kind of problem doesn’t exist.”
Remember that “Under Soviet rule there were no homosexuals in the Soviet Union.”
Nepal’s Maoist Assault on Gays
by DOUG IRELAND
The kidnapping in Nepal last month of two young women accused of being lesbians underscores the continuing plight of the Himalayan nation’s sexual minorities.
Despite the people’s democracy movement that last year put an end to the autocratic rule of the country’s monarchy, Nepal’s LGBTs – including its many metis, or cross-dressing and transgendered males – are still the targets of violence and persecution by the country’s Maoists.
Following a peace agreement the Maoist guerillas signed last November which put an end to the bloody, decade-long civil war they had led, they joined an interim government and, at the beginning of this month, received six of the 16 ministries in a cabinet headed by 85-year-old Prime Minister G. P. Koirala, chief of the Seven Party Alliance, the coalition that is Nepal’s largest political formation.
“Before the peace deal, most of the violence against metis was committed by the Nepali police, but recently many metis have been victimized by men who called themselves Maoists,” Sunil Pant, founder and director of Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society, the country’s leading LGBT rights and AIDS-prevention organization, recently wrote in U.K. Gay News.
But metis are not the Maoists’ only target, as the kidnapping of the two young lesbians shows. On March 2, a 16-year-old girl and a 20- year-old woman named Sarita C. were detained by cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist on suspicion they had a sexual relationship, according to the Blue Diamond Society. The two were held for half a day at a Maoist camp in Sunsari, intensively interrogated about whether they were homosexuals, and told they would “have to undergo a blood test to check if they were lesbians.”
The teenager’s family had used violence on several occasions against the couple and had demanded that the Maoists take action against them. This was the pair’s second kidnapping; in late 2006, they had been abducted and held at a Maoist camp in the Morang district, where they were called insulting names for homosexuals, including chakka, and ordered to join the Maoists as soldiers because it would lead them to the “straight life.”
But the duo refused to carry weapons – as a result of which they were deprived of food and beaten daily, though they finally managed to escape after a month.
The U.K. lesbian magazine Diva reported recently that in Nepal’s patriarchal culture, in which only 25 percent of adult women can read or write (compared to 55 percent of men), lesbians – or mitinis – “face enormous problems. Most are forced into marriage. They will be sacked and victimized if their sexuality becomes known.”
The magazine cited a Nepali saying, “The hen ought not to crow.”
Incendiary homophobic declarations from Nepal’s Maoist leaders have multiplied recently. In January, Maoist cadres began moving from house to house in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu telling owners not to rent rooms to gays, according to the Mumbai, India-based newspaper Daily News and Analysis. The newspaper reported that Sagar (some Nepalese use only one name), the former Maoist military commander of Kathmandu, had said that homosexuality was an “aberrant activity that could have a negative effect on society.” The newspaper reported that the Maoists, “who have also been campaigning against polygamy, polyandry, infidelity, and drunkenness, have a zero tolerance policy towards homosexuality.”
And a senior Maoist leader, Dev Gurung – former commander of the Maoist militia in the western part of Nepal, and now minister of Local Government – was quoted in December in the New Delhi, India- based daily The Asian Age as proclaiming, “Under Soviet rule there were no homosexuals in the Soviet Union. Now that they are moving towards capitalism, homosexuals may have arisen there as well. So homosexuality is a product of capitalism. Under socialism this kind of problem doesn’t exist.”
Moreover, Amrita Thapa, general secretary of the Maoist women’s association, told participants at a national conference in March 2006 that homosexuals were unnatural and were “polluting” society.
Human Rights Watch this week called for an end to Maoist persecution of LGBT people. In an April 16 letter to Nepal’s minister for Women, Children, and Social Welfare, HRW’s director of LGBT affairs, Scott Long, wrote that his group “is gravely concerned by anti-gay rhetoric and violence targeting people because of their presumed sexual orientation or the exercise of their sexual autonomy on the part of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.”
Citing the kidnapping of the two accused lesbians, Long said that case “is only one of numerous documented cases of arrests, rapes, and beatings of lesbians, gays, and metis in Nepal over the past several years. It also forms one part of a larger pattern of abuses of the rights of children by the Maoists.” (In February, HRW issued a report, “Children in the Ranks: The Maoists Use of Child Soldiers in Nepal,” which documented the Maoists’ widespread recruitment of children as soldiers.)
LGBT activist Pant and the Blue Diamond Society (BDS) will be honored in New York City on May 1 with the Felipa de Souza Award given by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) for their “courage and impact” as a grassroots group on LGBT rights. Pant founded the BDS in 2001, and the group says it now has 40,000 Nepalese LGBT people in its database and more than 10,000 active supporters.
In June 2004, BDS organized the first-ever LGBT demonstration in the country’s history, to protest police harassment and brutality – but the demonstration was violently broken up by police. The following month, in a case that aroused international outrage, Nepalese police arrested 39 BDS members and metis on charges of “spreading perversion.” In January this year, the group organized Nepal’s first LGBT conference, featuring openly gay and openly HIV-positive Justice Edwin Cameron of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal.
BDS, working in coalition with other human rights groups in the country, is currently pressing for inclusion of protection for the rights of LGBT people in the new Nepalese Constitution to be adopted by a special assembly that will be elected in June – but Pant told IGLHRC last week that “the major political parties don’t take our issues seriously and this means we have to work hard to convince them.”
The BDS is desperate for funds to continue and expand its work defending persecuted LGBT people.
For more information, visit the BDS website
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, Click Here: