Good News: There's been much to celebrate in Nepal recently

IssueFebruary 2008
News by Kat Barton

Not only did the Nepali democracy movement manage to effectively de-throne the hated King Gyanendra (see p4), but an historic ruling in December saw the Supreme Court legitimise gay rights in the Kingdom. The landmark judgement came after four activists from the Blue Diamond Society - Nepal's only organisation fighting for the rights of sexual minorities - filed a public interest litigation back in May 2007.

Not only did judges order the enactment of new laws protecting the rights of gay people, but they also instructed the government to amend existing laws to ensure that sexual minorities are not discriminated against in the meantime. The ruling is an important victory for the Nepalese gay, lesbian and transgender population who have long been victimised at the hands of Maoist rebels, and campaigners hope that the result will spur on gay rights activists in other developing countries.

Following the negative public response to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) which - amongst other things - bans unauthorised demonstrations within 1km of Parliament, the government is conducting a consultation into the future of the unpopular legislation.

The good news is that the consultation could well see the repeal of the section applying to demonstrations around Parliament, but there is no mention of repealing the ban on demonstrations at other sites including military bases and government and royal properties. Another disturbing catch is that the consultation paper includes discussion of the possible “harmonisation” of laws controlling protest around the whole of Britain - which could mean police gaining the power to ban static protests as well as marches, or even the extension of SOCPA to other areas.

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