Twelve years after he started the gay rights movement in the conservative Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, Sunil Babu Pant, the nation’s only openly gay member of parliament, relinquished charge of the non-profit Blue Diamond Society he had founded under the guise of spreading public awareness about HIV and AIDS.
The 41-year-old computer engineer, recipient of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s Felippa de Souza Award for bravery in spearheading the LGBT movement at a time homosexuality was taboo in Nepal, stepped down partly to groom other leaders.
However, it was also due to a persistent campaign against him that saw government officials frequently refuse to renew BDS’ license, putting its existence in jeopardy.
“BDS and the LGBT movement must not suffer because of me,” an emotional Pant said on his last working day as executive director on 31 July. “(My detractors) won’t (give up) until I leave. So it’s a mixture of reasons, but it’s a good time to leave and with BDS in better hands now.”
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