During the past three months, Blue Diamond Society, a human rights advocacy and support group for men who have sex (MSM) in Nepal, has documented at least six incidences of police brutality targeting cross-dressing MSM and HIV/AIDS outreach workers serving MSM in Kathmandu. The attacks have not only created an atmosphere of fear and tension in the MSM community, but also prevented essential HIV/AIDS education efforts to vulnerable populations.
Despite calls for police sensitivity trainings related to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, these patterns of abuse have continued unabated. Join Blue Diamond Society in demanding an immediate end to this epidemic of police abuse against MSM and HIV/AIDS outreach workers; thorough and impartial investigations of all reported incidences of police abuse against these groups; and sensitivity trainings for police regarding issues of sexual orientation and expression and gender identity and expression.
Please send urgent messages, faxes, or letters of protest to the following addresses. A model letter is provided below.
- Rt. Hon. Nayan Bahadur Khatri
- National Human Rights Commission of Nepal
Harihar Bhavan, Pulchwok
Lalitpur, G.P.O. Box 9182
- Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs
- Singha Durbar
Phone: +977-1-222847, 226230
- Inspector General of Police
- Police Headquarters
G.P.O. Box 407
Fax: + 977-1-441-5594
- Amnesty International Nepal
- P. O. Box 135, Bagbazar
Please send copies of letters to:
- Sunil Pant, Executive Director
Blue Diamond Society
- GPO Box 8975, EPC No: 5119
We are writing to express outrage over an epidemic of police abuse--including acts of arbitrary arrest and detention, physical violence, verbal abuse, intimidation, extortion, and rape--against cross-dressing men who have sex with men as well as on-duty HIV/AIDS outreach workers serving homosexuals in Kathmandu. Despite our calls for an end to this pattern of violence after an incident on April 22, 2003 reported by Blue Diamond Society—a support organization for men who have sex with men in Nepal--the violence against this population has only intensified.
One four separate occasions in the past three months, police have reportedly attacked cross-dressing men who have sex with men in Kathmandu. These attacks against cross-dressing MSM have transpired late at night, frequently as the victims enter or leave discos and other nightspots. Police officers have reportedly perpetrated acts of verbal abuse, physical beating, sexual abuse, intimidation, extortion, arbitrary arrest and detainment, and torture in custody. According to testimonials of cross-dressing men who have sex with men collected by Blue Diamond Society, police typically attempt to humiliate this population by calling a crowd around to stare, forcing the victims to dance or walk about in drag, taking their photos without permission, or calling them derogatory names such as “hijra”.
Blue Diamond Society also reports that on two occasions, police have harassed, threatened, and verbally and physically abused its on-duty HIV/AIDS peer education workers serving men who have sex with men. This abuse has not only rendered two of its outreach workers physically incapable of working but also prevented life-saving HIV/AIDS prevention work targeting vulnerable populations.
These violations of the right to freedom of expression, freedom from torture, the right to security of person, the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, right to information, right to health, and right to be free from discrimination--all guaranteed by the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a signatory--are alarmingly common at the hands of the police against men who have sex with men and cross-dressers in Nepal. The police harassment and violence against HIV/AIDS workers is also preventing life-saving education work against vulnerable populations in Nepal.
We denounce this discriminatory behavior and demand an immediate end to all police abuses against homosexuals. We repeat our demand for an immediate, sweeping, and fair investigation of previous and current abuses against these communities by the police, including the above mentioned incidences. Police should protect and serve citizens, not abuse them. The Kathmandu police should be trained immediately on human rights and issues of human diversity, including sexual orientation and gender identity, to discourage discrimination against any group, including homosexuals. We urge you to invite local groups such as Blue Diamond Society to assist with training police on these matters.
I anticipate your swift and decisive action to guarantee respect for human rights in accordance with international human rights standards in Nepal. Please contact me with notification of your response at the address below.
In addition to abuse perpetrated by police against cross-dressing men who have sex with men (MSM) recorded by Blue Diamond Society on April 22, 2003 (see IGLHRC Action Alert, “Nepal: Denounce Police Brutality Against Homosexuals in Kathmandu,” June 3, 2003, at http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/english/article/takeaction/globalactionalerts/580.html), the following incidences have also been reported:
- On May 24, 2003, as they were leaving Jump nightclub in Thamel, Kathmandu, four cross-dressing men who have sex with men were verbally abused, arbitrarily detained, and physically tortured and sexually abused in custody by police officers at Sorha Khutte Police Station.
- On June 22, 2003, a cross-dressing man who has sex with men was approached on the street by a policeman, who took him to a nearby police booth in Dhobichaur, Kathmandu, where four policemen beat and kicked him, forced him to strip naked, and exposed themselves as they spat on his genitalia and threatened to rape him with a baton. When the victim suggested it was not a crime to wear the attire of one’s own choice in this country, they called him a pimp, a thief, and cheat.
- On July 21, 2003, a mata (feminized male) and his partner were arbitrarily arrested and detained by police at Koteshwore, Kathmandu. Police Subinspector Rajendra Parshad Adhikari said to Blue Diamond Society that they were detained because the mata was dressed up and behaved in a culturally inappropriate way—and reportedly lectured them about proper dress and manners. As he tried to remove the mata’s earrings, he showed them a box of jewelry which he claimed to have seized from other cross-dressers. During 14 hours in custody, the victims were provided no food and water.
Moreover, on two occasions, Blue Diamond Society’s HIV/AIDS peer educators serving MSM were harassed and threatened by police for doing life-saving prevention work.
- On June 21, 2003, in Pashupati Megasthali, Kathmandu, one peer educator was reportedly approached by three policemen while distributing condoms in an area frequented by men who have sex with men. After receiving condoms, the policemen demanded money from him; when he refused and identified himself as an on-duty HIV/AIDS outreach worker, they verbally abused him, punched him in the stomach, and kicked him. One of the policemen threatened to put him behind bars if he came to that area again, performed his duties as peer educator, or provided condoms to men who have sex with men.
- The next day, on June 22, the same peer educator, along with a colleague from Blue Diamond Society, was approached by two of the same policemen from the previous night. They asked why they had returned to the area and performed HIV/AIDS education to men who have sex with men—and demanded them to return to their office to perform these educational activities. When they refused, the police officers verbally insulted them, stole the condoms they were carrying, and physically assaulted them. They threatened to kill the two men if they ever worked in the area again.
After the attack on Blue Diamond Society members on April 22, 2003, bowing to media and legal pressure, the Additional Inspector General of Police (AIGP) pledged to institute sensitization training on issues of sexuality and gender identity for Kathmandu, yet these incidences have proven that respect for the human rights of cross dressers and men who have sex with men among the police is far from realized. Blue Diamond Society has demanded a meeting with police officials, but police have failed to respond with a date.
For additional details about the cases documented in the past three months, please feel free to contact Blue Diamond Society at the address provided above.
Right to freedom from discrimination is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, Articles 1, 2 and 7), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Articles 2 and 26). It is also guaranteed by the Constitution of Nepal and the Civil Liberty Act of 1955.
Right to liberty and security of person is protected by the UDHR (Article 3), and by the ICCPR (Articles 6 and 9).
Right to freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is protected by the UDHR (Article 5), and by the ICCPR (Article 7). The right to compensation in cases of torture is also provided in the Nepal Compensation Against Torture Act, 1997.
Right to freedom from arbitrary arrest is protected by the UDHR (Article 9), and by the ICCPR (Article 9).
Right to freedom of expression is protected by the UDHR (Article 19), and by the ICCPR (Article 19).
Right to effective remedy is protected by the UDHR (Article 8).
Right to the highest attainable standard of health is protected in the International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in its Article 14. In its General Comment on Article 14, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights has identified "information accessibility" as a core element of that right, including "the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas concerning health issues." States must refrain "from censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting health-related information, including sexual education and information, as well as from preventing people's participation in health-related matters." The Committee also observes that "the Covenant proscribes any discrimination in access to health care and underlying determinants of health, as well as to means and entitlements for their procurement, on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, physical or mental disability, health status (including HIV/AIDS), sexual orientation and civil, political, social or other status, which has the intention or effect of nullifying or impairing the equal enjoyment or exercise of the right to health" (emphasis added).
Nepal became a signatory to the ICCPR (1996) and the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), which provides state obligations to address torture, and is bound by the provisions of both. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Nepal.