Hundreds join Nepal's first gay pride parade

The colourful rally culminated in the lighting of hundreds of candles, coinciding with the Hindu Cow Festival.Horse bogies, decorated elephants, cultural floats also featured during the gay pride parade as gay artists presented cultural performances.

Irish Lawmaker Dominique Hanningan, also a gay, and British Ambassador to Nepal John Tucknott were present.Besides, diplomats from Denmark, Germany, UK and French embassies also came in to offer support, said Sunil Babu Panta, gay lawmaker and president of the Blue Diamond Society, a body dedicated for the welfare of LGBTI (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-sexual and inter-sex) community.

At least a dozen lesbians and gays from India also took part in the first international gay parade in Nepal."The International Pride Day organised in Nepal is not just about LGBT people standing up for their rights. Its about all of us - straight or gay - supporting them in their quest for equality," British Ambassador John Tucknott said.

"It is about saying no to intolerance, no to prejudice, no to discrimination, and no to violence," he said.The rally saw the participation of some 2,500 LGBTI community people that converged into a gathering at Basantapur where candles were lit to remember the people from the community who died this year.

Gaijatra, a Hindu festival is organised to pay homage to those people who died in the year, and the celebration coincided with the day."We celebrated the occasion to end all kinds of discriminations against the gay people, to end poverty and to promote tourism," said Panta, the only gay lawmaker of Nepal.

He said his organisation BDS is working to promote tourism for the year 2011 when Nepal aims to attract one million tourists including a large number of gays and lesbians from around the world.

A separate body, the Pink Mountain Travel Agency has also been established for promoting gay tourists in the country, he said."If the government pays attention to this specialised market we can bring in some 200,000 gay and lesbian tourists from around the year during the tourism year," he said.

He said some 200-300 gay tourists have already arrived in Nepal this year since a promotion campaign was launched.

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