Your search keywords:

LGBTIQA+ community: A continuing struggle for social acceptance

LGBTIQA+ community: A continuing struggle for social acceptance

Ramlal (name changed) was born to a farming family in Dhanusha. He was about ten when he realized he was different from the other boys of his age. He had feminine traits and took pleasure in grooming himself to look pretty.

“I enjoyed wearing lipstick and bangles. Playing with girls brought me joy,” he says. 

Ramlal’s girly interests invited bullying and harassment not just from his contemporaries but also adults in his neighborhoods. They hurled derogatory terms like ‘chhakka’, ‘hijra’, and ‘mangmehra’ at him. Even his family members harbored feelings of embarrassment because he identified as a girl. Out of shame, his father refused to send him to school. 

“My father cursed me, often expressing regret for my birth. My younger siblings also didn’t accept me for who I was. They were resentful because they felt that I had tarnished our family’s image.” 

The only person who supported Ramlal was his mother, though she insisted on him getting married to a girl. “She thought that marriage would fix me,” says Ramlal. “Time and again, she would suggest that I get married.” 

At the time, Ramlal felt that he was the only one in the world. He tried and failed to fit in to become “normal”.  Eventually, he met some people from the LGBTIQA+ community who advised him that it was okay to get married. Ramlal agreed to this advice and got married. 

Little did he know about the problems that were coming his way. His marital life blew up after his wife learned about him. Provoked by villagers, his wife would abuse and berate him.

“The villagers used to ask my wife how she could bear a child from a transgender husband. They would even spread rumors about her having affairs,” says Ramlal. 

Out of societal pressure and taunts, Ramlal and his wife had two children, a son and a daughter. But having children didn’t stop the rumors and insults. The villagers started taunting Ramlal’s children.

“My children were told to expel me out of my home, labeling me useless due to my transgender status,” says Ramlal.

His home life was never peaceful. He and his wife used to fight constantly. His relationship with his parents was also deteriorating. All his savings were in his wife’s bank account, and his parents had transferred his inheritance under his wife’s name. 

Ramlal says he felt alone and unwanted, and even contemplated ending his life. Fortunately, he was rescued by a man from his neighboring village. He couldn’t live in the village anymore, so he decided to leave for India. 

When he reached Janakpur, Ramlal encountered someone from his village who worked at an Antiretroviral Therapy Center. Aware of his suffering, he guided Ramlal to the office of Blue Diamond Society, an LGBTIQA+ rights organization. 

Ramlal spent a week at the society office, receiving counseling and hearing about the stories of other people who had gone through similar experiences as him.

“Their empathy helped me understand that everyone in our community faces struggles, but most persist, fight against the odds and live a dignified life,” says Ramlal. 

He eventually moved to India and found himself a job at a general store. Ramlal has left his past behind, and he is happy that he did.  

“Janakpurdham’s Blue Diamond Society is my home now, and its people are my family,” he says. 

Ramlal’s family has also forgotten him, it seems. When his mother passed away three months ago, no one tried to contact him. Despite being the eldest son, he could not participate in the funeral rituals of his mother. He learned about his mother’s passing from a friend who was visiting Janakpur.

“What I have gone through I wouldn’t even wish upon my worst enemy,” says Ramlal.

Pradip Yadav, program coordinator at Blue Diamond Society, Janakpurdham, says, the real problem for most LGBTIQA+ persons starts at their homes in the forms of abuse, ignorance and non-acceptance. 

“Little has changed over the years. LGBTIQA+ individuals endure humiliation at home and they are denied education, resources, and job opportunities.” 

Even though Nepal has legally recognized LGBTIQA+ community and their rights, Yadav says the community members still face many challenges. It has been observed that the implementation of various government orders has been fragmented and lacking in tangible progress. Legal and government orders have been inconsistent and incomplete, indicating a need for more comprehensive and effective implementation strategies. 

“The core reason for their lagging behind is the denial of education, leading to failures across sectors,” says Yadav. “Majority of the LGBTIQA+ persons lack access to education; only a few reach primary or secondary levels, and a handful secure promising careers.” 

Despite our attempts, academic challenges persist for the LGBTIQA+ individuals. He says there was a resistance from Private and Boarding School's Organization Nepal  (PABSON) and National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association (NPABSON) when he requested for LGBTIQA+ representation in school committees. 

“PABSON and NPABSON were worried about society’s readiness for such an inclusion.” 

He added that advocacy for the LGBTIQA+ community faces a significant obstacle due to their political exclusion, hindering their representation in policy making spheres. The crux lies in the necessity for advocates who intimately understand the community’s struggles, particularly those grappling with their identities. 

To justify and effectively drive this advocacy, it’s imperative that individuals who have navigated similar challenges are part of the political landscape. Their presence ensures a more comprehensive and authentic approach to policy making, essential in securing the long-denied rights of the LGBTIQA+ community.

“Multiple laws were drafted in our favor. But sadly, their implementation has fallen short,” says Yadav. “The contemporary definition of minorities, for instance, excludes the LGBTIQA+ community. While Dalit, Muslim, women, and Madheshi are seen as minorities, our identity is overlooked.” 

Moreover , despite ongoing discourse about political representation, political parties often fall short in practicing inclusive policies effectively. Yadav’s personal experience of being offered a ticket from Nepali Congress under the condition of not publicly revealing his sexual orientation and identifying as male highlights the persistent challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ individuals in accessing political opportunities. 


“The ultimate solution lies in political inclusion. Without representatives from our community, advocacy for our rights remains futile,” says Yadav. “We’re just like everyone else. We’re part of this world too. Consider us as a part of the society and that will be enough for us.”