Breaking Down Barriers: Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Identities in Nepal

Yes, Our Son is Gay

Bhojraj Pokhrel

Translated

The existence of sexual and gender minorities is not generally accepted in Nepal, which has many races, languages, religions, and cultures. Accepting the existence of all identities is the first condition of a democratic-just society. This article by former Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel discusses the issue of gender identity from a national/international perspective.

One day the son said – ‘I am gay.’ We hugged the son. We were careful not to make him feel any inferiority complex or inconvenience.

2014, June 8.
MisterMati Amuda and her son Adheep were chatting after dinner. As the matter progressed, the leader said, ‘Today I want to open a matter with you.’
I saw some seriousness on his face which was normal until a while ago. Both parents said – ‘What’s the matter, don’t say it!’

Sketch: Deepak Gautam

“Don’t you be mad!”

“Don’t say anything,” we made it easy for him.

“I’m gay.”

I looked at his and his wife’s faces without understanding. I saw some seriousness in my son’s eyes and some confusion in my wife’s eyes.

To ease the situation, I said, ‘Okay.’

The room was quiet for a moment.

Again I opened my mouth, ‘We are always with you in this. It is not by your own will. Isn’t it Mamu?’

I call my wife ‘Mamu’ as my children call me. She fully supported me and added a few things to make it easier for her son, she said.

We embraced our son. After understanding his condition, we felt more intimacy and love. Why – why the love for him increased even more.

We had a long conversation that evening. He told his past. We tried to encourage him as much as we could. We were careful not to make him feel inferior or embarrassed.

In this process, we have only one complaint – Why didn’t you say anything to us for so many years!

He also revealed that he was his friend, that he was a foreigner and that there was probably a possibility of marriage between the two soon. We happily congratulated him.

After a long conversation, the atmosphere of the house seemed to be pleasant and comfortable.

Before going to sleep, I looked at my son’s face again. I understand that he is feeling lightheaded. Telling this to us probably felt like a huge burden on him.

At that time, my father’s health was getting a little weak. He was about to reach a hundred. We were afraid that this news would kill him. We decided not to tell anyone else in Nepal except my brother so that father would not know.

However, how ignorant we are that his sister in America already knows about this condition of his brother. They didn’t tell us that we would feel uncomfortable or that we would be shocked!

•••

Son Adeep was loved by everyone since childhood. At an early age, he showed an abundance of compassion and love for others. was not touched. Wasn’t even belligerent. He was calm in nature. It seemed as if he didn’t know how to cheat, he didn’t want to.

He started school at the age of two and stayed at the Godavari Hostel in St. Xavier’s before he turned eight. After SLC, spent 11th and 12th in Ranikhet, Nainital in hostel. During his undergraduate studies at the State University of New York in the US and later at Columbia University in New York, he stayed in a hostel.

Let’s not say, he hasn’t been with us since he was eight years old. Come as a guest on vacation and return to school-college without being able to wipe out the mess.

As he grew older, his nature began to change. His childhood interest in socializing with family and relatives began to change dramatically.

By the time he reached class 10, he became reluctant to socialize with his family, except for a few friends. In some cases, we would even give orders to ‘mingle with everyone’.

He couldn’t figure out why his behavior was like this.

It was only after learning about his condition that I realized why he did not want to socialize much with his relatives. Our society considers this group unnatural. Considers a criminal. Considered as a supporter of loose culture. It is considered a part of Western culture. And without understanding their wholeness kills them alive using the language of hatred, contempt and abuse.

Rather than live and die and be despised with inhuman bitter treatment, words and sweet feelings at every step, I went nowhere, heard nothing. No need to drink the poison of humiliation. This is the reason why the son feels lonely.

I did not sleep well the night I learned this secret of my son. Not because of his son’s condition, but because of his ignorance. I still have the image of a traditional father for my son. I felt that I was no longer able to be a friend. Now the family that is under one roof, but not. Now the family is more scattered. Due to the extreme addiction to the Internet, even at the dining table, the mobile phone is used more than the plate. At this time when it seems that communication is disappearing in the family, it seems that an environment where we can open up to each other is even more important.

My son had very few friends in his school life. The son who studied in the most famous and modern school of that time does not have many friends. As a person, he is easy-going, simple and friendly, but cannot make friends with many people. I have not been able to understand that he is not able to make friends or that he is avoiding our society.

•••

After retiring as Secretary to Government in 2055, all four of us went on a Pilgrimage/Visit to South India. When I reached Madhya Pradesh, I felt the scene of my son being very scared when a bunch of ‘Tesrolingis’ entered the train compartment singing and playing. I couldn’t understand why he was so scared.

After SSLI, while studying or working abroad, I used to find his emails a bit depressing. I used to write long e-mails, ‘Of course you think you have a problem, don’t accept any problem, don’t keep it in your mind, there are solutions to all problems in the world, be honest with me.’ But, he always avoided it.

However, on my request last time, he replied, ‘There is no point in saying something that has no solution.’

After reading this, there were many arguments in my mind. There must be some deep theme of sadness, despair, despair about life itself, I thought. We thought that there would be some problem in studies, love or career.

•••

He was also getting older. As per our custom, family and friends not only started talking about his marriage but also started coming up with details of suitable girls for him. My elderly father/mother also wanted to see her grandson’s wedding.

Mamu used to talk about marriage with her son more than me. He always said, “I don’t do breakfast”. He would reply by saying ‘Don’t talk about the morning’.

The son is amazing. Life-world is understood. I believe that whatever he thinks is right, it is his wish, we will not interfere in it and we will fulfill our duty the day he shows his wish.

He doesn’t even have a ‘girl friend’. Even when you grow up, you almost don’t want to hear about marriage. What is special? We never understood this side.

I myself was a person who worked in important responsibilities in the field of gender minorities. I had already got exposure to it.

Suddenly my mind ran to it.

•••

I retired from government service at the age of 45. Having retired after serving as secretary of important ministries for almost seven years, I could not survive on pension alone. Having to work to support myself, ‘raise’ my family and even educate them, I kept myself busy with various types of non-government jobs, which not only helped me see and understand the larger world outside the government but also helped me grow my financial portfolio.

The first task after retirement was the team led by me to identify the status of HIV AIDS in Nepal, which report served as the foundation for preparing long-term strategies, tactics and programs for HIV AIDS control and prevention in Nepal.

At the same time, I got involved in the policy project established in Nepal by an international organization called FHI in 2061. Due to the discrimination, stigmatization or neglect of the state policies and society on the groups that are infected with HIV or at high risk of its infection, they

Afraid to open up about their situation, so that these target groups will be more vulnerable and the infection will increase at a faster pace, helping the government to end such discriminatory policies and developing the ‘advocacy’ capacity of that community to correct the weaknesses in the state’s policies, the participation of the affected parties in such policy making. The objective was to increase their capacity.

Its target group was those identified as being HIV-infected and at high risk of infection. Sexual minorities will also be among the target groups.

In collaborating with these different groups, the problem seemed to be facing another mountain of problems. The bitter experiences of discrimination, violence, humiliation etc. that they had to endure step by step from the family, community, society and the state (especially the police) were heard and seen. There was an opportunity to understand thousands of stories, sorrows and the psychological impact of such discrimination, including those who lost their lives due to the negative effects of such discrimination.

Working closely with this group for about four years earned their trust. It was hard to hold back tears while listening to their stories. If they are known to be ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’, they will be kicked out of the house. If the pregnancy would have been miscarried, if it would have died, if it would have disappeared, such behavior would be from the family, etc. How many, how many? When walking on the streets, insults and behavior like ‘Hijda’, ‘Samaj Bagara’, ‘Deadly’, ‘Namard’. A number of inappropriate questions and behaviors during the course of seeking health care. How many have to live by drinking poison at each step, how many stories and pain?

Also the total contempt of the society, so that one has to go through the stages until the end of life. What kind of mood will they have after their relatives and families bless them like this! In which there is no fault of his own, but it is difficult to live as a human among humans!

Moreover, as a result of the suffering caused by defamatory words such as ‘impotent’, ‘chakka’ etc. given by society and the contempt, humiliation and discriminatory treatment they have to face every step of the way, the suicide rate is high in this group. Some of the high-profile ‘suicide’ incidents, many of which are the products of this society’s behaviour, are now running through my mind.

I have seen many ‘high profile’ parents from such groups, who even after understanding the situation, force their son or daughter to get married to the opposite sex, even if they don’t want to get married, just to show society. And such marriages are immediately broken and an innocent girl has to give up her life. I have many friends whose children fall into this category but never dare to say that my children are gay. Fearing their perceived honor in society rather than the love of their children, they keep showing off. Children are discouraged, not encouraged.

•••

Not only me, many people working in our team in the ‘Policy Project’ understood the pain of this section of society. The mentality of discrimination was gone from our state of mind.

The office of ‘Policy Project Nepal’ was on the third floor of a house in Pulchok. I still remember. As usual, that day we were sitting in Bardali and eating. A female colleague working in the team casually said, “Bhojrajji, our son is going to be gay, hagi.”

He said this in reference to the effective role of some gay people (from Nepal or abroad) working in that community at that time, the hospitality and respect they received from all over the world. At that time, we just joked and laughed.

It was around 2063. By then my son was twenty years old.

I thought that I understood this area a lot, but I did not fully understand the situation of my own son.

I understand, but it took me time to bring this incident out because of my nature of not talking much about myself. Some may think this is a personal matter, but I thought – it is not just a personal matter. It is the intention of me and my family that the community, forced to be non-existent and disrespected, will be inspired to open up with identity and that the family-society will take it easily.

•••

2018, October 19. Dasain Tika day. 11 o’clock. Municipal Building, Mals, Germany. After swearing by the chief executive officer of the city, she gave the certificate of marriage registration to Adheep and Tovias Folz and ordered them to exchange rings, saying, “Your marriage has been registered according to German law and from today you are a couple.” This marriage registration was between ‘Logne-Logne ie Huswend-Huswend’.

Adhip and Tovi’s marriage was not likely to take place in Nepal, as our law only envisages marriage between opposite sexes. Therefore, the marriage was arranged after a long struggle, as Tovi is a German citizen and same-sex marriage is legal in Germany.

About 10 months before the wedding, the German government had given the date of the wedding. Meanwhile, my father passed away and we fell into an annual ablution. In general our participation in sacred work was not appropriate. However, the given time was not able to go up and down. However, according to the Hindu religion, there was no traditional marriage and it was only up to us to witness the marriage registration at the government office. Let’s fear the society, how many things will be cut. Don’t go when the time you just got is gone and you have to wait for years to get another time.

Again, the fear that the son of that sensitive situation will have the effect of saying, “My parents didn’t support me so far.” Finally I consulted brother Shekhar, he agreed and we reached there.

After the exchange of rings, champagne was opened according to the local custom. For those of us who don’t drink alcohol, the juice itself became champagne. A toast was made, a photo session was held and then a reception jointly hosted by the sons was attended.

Even now, I myself, who participated in my daughter’s wedding with thousands of people, feel uncomfortable that my son’s wedding should be done secretly because of the fear of the society.

What would be the condition of the common family if we wait for four years to tell our son is gay and he is married to another man?

•••

‘This is a product of the modern era’ – some people say this.

However, its existence has been accepted in Puranic or Vedic times. And even at that time, it can be read in various texts and stories that place this subject in a respectable place. Most of us are familiar with the famous incidents like Lord Shiva’s Ardhanareeshwar form, the worship of Kinnar-Kinnari, and Rama’s boon to the ‘hijdas’ in the Ramayana. Although some societies take it for granted, its acceptance is still complicated in some religious beliefs or ancient societies. A large number see and understand this as an unnatural tendency rather than a biological cause.

However, legally/constitutionally, Nepal has taken a huge leap in this in a short period of time.

Under the constitution of Nepal, citizens have rights and rights such as citizenship with gender identity, equal ethnic rights for citizens, and non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Thus, even though the constitution declares that the right to respect, equality and freedom and that there will be no discrimination on the basis of gender and marital status, it is yet to be fully seen in practice.

In the same way, even when it has been established by the Supreme Court that gender and sexual minorities i.e. homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersex people cannot be discriminated on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation or they cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights provided by the constitution, this community has been able to use the rights and rights provided by the constitution. no Even the form of contempt and hatred of the society has not changed.

This community will be despised and despised by all the state-society, even the family-family will look at them with more contempt or insult them with respect, and who will be their support? This is an ego question. There is a need to change the tendency of children to run away from reality. For this, family plays an important role, so the family should be ready. Instead of dressing their wounds, don’t sprinkle salt. Must be able to give courage. A comfortable environment should be provided.

If the truth is brought out by the so-called leaders of the society, then some relief can be given to those who are suffering. Parents who have to hide the special condition of their children for many reasons can also be encouraged. We, the parents of Adheep, have written this article with the same intention. And, the son adhip also agreed to print this article. Through this article, we want to say to Adheep and Tovi – we are happy, may your life be happy and beautiful.

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