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NEPAL - Aug 20, 2004

On the evening of August 7, police in Kathmandu carried out raids on restaurants, bars, and streets frequented by Nepalese mehtis (transgender people). Thirty-nine people were arrested. All are members of the Blue Diamond Society, a nongovernmental organization that provides HIV-prevention services and engages in advocacy for the rights of sexual minorities. Those arrested have been detained at Hanuman Dhoka police station in the capital. While no charges have yet been filed, officers reportedly told a Blue Diamond Society representative that homosexuals are "disturbing society".

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the Nepalese government to end harassment of sexual minorities, including MSM (men who have sex with men) and transgender people, and launch full investigations into numerous allegations of violence and police harassment. Most recently, early in the morning of August 7 in Kathmandu, three unidentified men reportedly attacked Jayaram, a mehti, cut his throat and nearly severed his finger. Jayaram remains hospitalized.

"The Blue Diamond Society has faced harassment from the Nepalese government as they defend the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of society, " said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch.

On July 12, a Nepalese Supreme Court judge ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs to show cause why the Blue Diamond Society should not be banned for advocating open homosexual activities.

In a context of an escalating civil war, respect for the rule of law is steadily eroding in Nepal. The Nepalese government must decide whether it wants to subject its citizens to official discrimination and abuse or to protect the basic human rights of all.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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