Gender minorities turning to politics to get heard
KATHMANDU, Jan 5: Sheela Gurung of Bardiya, Badri Pun of Myagdi, Nilu Bhatta of Jhapa and Teju Adhikari of Chitwan -- all members of gender minorities -- have one more thing in common. They are all active members of one or the other political party as they strongly believe in political power and clout.
“The life of a common man is miserable. Nobody listens to or cares about a common man. Moreover, there are very few opportunities members of gender minorities,” said 23-year-old Adhikari who recently obtained “active membership” of CPN-UML.
“One year ago, I was a general member of the party. But now I have decided to pursue a career in politics,” added the lesbian.
Bhatta, another lesbian based in Kathmandu joined Nepali Congress as an active member five months ago for the same reasons. According to Bhatta, it is very difficult to make your voice heard unless you have a political clout. “The entire world talks only about male and female. They simply overlook us.” She asserted that she has not joined the party for nothing. “Sooner or later, I hope we can create a society in which everyone is treated equally,” added Bhatta.
According to Gurung, a female-to-male transgender, she felt like an empowered being only when he joined politics a decade ago. Until then, she was treated as a laughing stock. “I do not know about others, but for the people like us, it is very important to have political connections to be counted as human beings. But politics gives a lot more power,” said Gurung, who has worked as the office secretary of the party´s transport and labor unions for the last two years and also as the personal assistant to former lawmaker Gaura Prasain.
“I am a bit disappointed about the lack of quota for gender minorities in the state mechanism. Our sexual orientation should not be a reason to deprive us from any kind of service,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, third-gender citizenship holder Badri Pun said many young lesbians and transgenders are following the footsteps of the likes of Adhikari and Bhatta. “The problem is the people in our community are not highly educated or aware. Despite this, inspired by the lives of those who have joined politics, others are also following suit,” said Pun who is a district level leader of CPN-UML.
“I am an elected member of Myagdi Kathmandu Samparka Manch. My target is to win the regional level election of our party and then if everything goes well, or the party is ready to give me ticket I would be fighting for the higher level election as well,” he said.
Talking to Republica, Laxmi Ghalan, president of Mitini Nepal, which claims to have 13,000 members, said that the members have been growingly taking interest in politics, thanks to the influence of Badri Pun, among others.
“There have been instances when Badri used his political connections to help our members settle their problems. Moreover, he keeps encouraging them to get involved in politics for their own good, and it´s working!”