Nepal: 39 transvestites arrested and at risk of torture

All 39 ‘metis’ (male transvestites) are members of the Blue Diamond Society, an organisation in Kathmandu that campaigns for the rights of sexual minorities and provides sexual health advice and support services. They were reportedly given no food or water for their first 15 hours in custody on the night of 9 August, and have not been charged with any offence.

Amnesty International is concerned that these 39 arrests may be in retaliation for a complaint about an earlier alleged police rape and beating. Other ‘meti’ community members are alleged to have been beaten and raped in police custody in the early hours of 25 July. Some managed to escape from the police, but others were detained and allegedly forced to perform oral sex and anally raped. The Blue Diamond Society made a complaint to police authorities about this.

The Blue Diamond Society is facing a possible Supreme Court ban on its activities for “trying to make homosexual activities legal.” Nepal’s National Civil Code outlaws homosexuality as “unnatural sex”. In response to a private petition, the Supreme Court has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs and other authorities to demonstrate that a ban should not be imposed.

Amnesty International UK said: “This crackdown on members of the ‘meti’ community in Nepal is extremely disturbing. The Nepalese authorities should ensure these men are not discriminated against because of their sexual identity. They must be charged with recognisable offences or released, and they must be treated humanely while in custody.”

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to respect the rights of sexual minorities to freedom from discrimination, as contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a state party, and is urging the authorities to investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice.

The human rights organisation is issuing the appeal to its members worldwide asking them to petition the Nepal government to protect those arrested and give assurances that they will be treated humanely while in custody and not tortured or ill-treated.

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