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NEPAL - Aug 25, 2010

Mounted on an elephant Nepal's first openly gay lawmaker and winner of a 2004 Utopia Award, Sunil Pant, led the nation's gay pride crowd through Kathmandu. The event coincided with the Gaijatra festival, a day when the Hindu community pays homage to the dead while simultaneously poking fun at social ills. Young men disguised as different characters make rounds of the city, mocking social follies.

Pant said the day was chosen for the parade because it is the one day in Nepal when transgenders dress up in public without feeling shame.

Local politicians and international representatives were present, including British Ambassador John Tucknott and embassy staff, as well as Nepal's first transgender politician, Bhumika Shrestha.

"Nepal Pride is not just about LGBT people standing up for their rights," said Tucknott. "It's about all of us - straight or gay - supporting them in their quest for equality. It is about saying no to intolerance, no to prejudice, no to discrimination, and no to violence. It is about saying yes to embracing diversity."

"It's cool," said Ujjwal Shakya, a shop owner in King's Way. "You don't get to see something like this very often. It's a good thing that they're trying to make a point like this, where they can grab everyone's attention," he said. "Look, how everyone is looking so happy."

Mohamad Osama had stepped out of his Muslim community office in the mosque to watch the parade pass.

"It's a part of the Hindu tradition. I think it's okay if they are able to use that to impart a message."

Message from Sunil Pant pf Blue Dimaond Society:

"We are extremely happy to share that the 2010 Gaijatra International Pride festival went very well. The theme of the pride festival was 'end all forms of discrimination, end poverty and promote tourism.' We'd like to thank British Embassy, US embassy, Irish MP Dominic Hannigen and thousands of LGBTs, friends, families and supporters who marched in the pride festival with Blue Dimaond Society. It was a big success. Gaijatra is a unique festival and has established itself as an international one from this year on. We had visitors from 15 countries including India, Japan, US, UK, Denmark, France, Norway, Australia and others. We expect more international participant from next year on.

"Thank you every one.

"In Solidarity,"

Sunil Pant
Member of Constituent Assembly and Parliament
Kathmandu Nepal

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