Has Nepal really evolved into one of the most gender-fluid and safe places for people of all genders, or has it always been that way? If you see the scriptures in the old temples around the Kathmandu valley, you are more than likely to see different homosexual scriptures of deities. This is no surprise for people living inside the valley. Though not yet very common among the people, the Nepalese culture and even religion have always promoted LGBTQ and the relationship between people from such communities.
And gay parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant is all in for the rights of people from the community. Hence, it really would not be wrong to say that Nepal is, in fact, the best LGBTQ+ travel destination for people all around the world. The country has been, after all, embracing the beauty of being unique and, precisely speaking, homosexual through centuries!
If you want to know more as to why Nepal is the best LGBTQ+ travel destination, make sure you stay tuned with us till the end of this article!
Sunil Babu Pant about LGBTQ
Sunil Babu Pant himself is a gay lawmaker in Nepal. He has been educating not just the people in Nepal but also the tourists who come to the heart of the country, Kathmandu, to travel. There is so much to explore in the temples and the culture of Nepal. LGBTQ may be a bizarre topic to many, but Pant is on his way to making sure that the topic is normalized and considered one of the most important ones to be well aware of.
Most Saturdays, for Pant, are spent on heritage walks through the streets of Kathmandu. The walk that Sunil takes the tourists on includes a three-hour long walk, including the tour of stupas, temples, and scriptures around the valley, most of which revolves around awarding people about LGBTQ history in Nepal and in the Nepalese culture. Gender and sexuality are some of the areas that Pant’s educative motive heavily revolves around.
Pant says, “You’ll see a lot of nudity; it’s very normal … living in Kathmandu, it should be taken as pride, not shame,”. The scriptures around the temples are highly suggestive, sexually. And, it is not difficult for just anyone to conclude what the figures are doing in the homoerotic illustrations.
Sunil Babu has been conducting heritage tours since 2010. He had been promoting LGBTQ and such educative and open-minded thoughts to people long before the Nepal Government was even keen on providing services to the community. However, times have changed, and the Nepal Government is more inclined toward the services given to the LGBTQ community and their rights. And Nepal is slowly but surely proceeding into the “pink economy” again after centuries.
LGBTQ travel guides in Nepal
Nepal is on its way to opening paths for people from the LGBTQ community into its economy by promoting tourists or travel guides from the community itself. In April, the Nepal Tourist Board and Nepal Mountaineering Academy launched their first trekking guide training program for people from LGBTQ. The fresh new graduates, after the cancellation of solo travels in the country, are expected to include those from the LGBTQ crowd majorly.
The coordinator of the training program, Himal Pant, says that it is important for the tourists who belong to the long-forbidden community must be made comfortable with the guides from the same community to enhance education as well as comfort in matters of gender and openness. Twenty-five guides from LGBTQ were provided with intensive final training in June this year. There are many among the trainees who aim to establish an LGBTQ travel agency of their own shortly.
Likewise, these trainees are much more confident in touring and guiding tourists many of them would even call themselves “trendsetters”. This is possibly one of the best things acquired by the government of Nepal. The guides from these training sessions not only conduct tourism promotion but also introduce tourists from around the globe to queer-friendly spaces and scenes around Kathmandu. This has become a great way to promote tourism even among people who might otherwise not consider traveling to places unsafe for individuals from LGBTQ.
Pink Tiffany Bar in Thamel
The Pink Tiffany Bar located in Thamel, Kathmandu, has been aimed towards the promotion and safety of people from the LGBTQ community in Nepal as well as tourists. The nightlife in this bar is very safe and is completely restrictive of any harmful practices against people from the community. Furthermore, unlike many bars and restaurants that restrict and gives an uncomfortable air to people from LGBTQ despite them paying the necessary fees, this bar gives them the freedom to enjoy themselves, as does every other person outside the community.
Though it is a new and completely exploratory concept, Pink Tiffany has welcomed, with open arms, the people from LGBTQ and their right to live and enjoy the most basic parts of life without a second thought or insecurity in their minds. This restaurant is doing quite well!
Nepal’s Rank in 2023 LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index
Nepal ranks in 44th position among 203 countries worldwide in the 2023 LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index. This marks a proactive path towards developing not just the mindset of people in the country but also the country as a whole. In Asia, however, Nepal ranks first in this index.
According to Pant, while tourists from around the world, including Nepal, have always considered traveling to countries like Thailand and Taiwan, they still overlook the beauty and openness of Nepal in the world of traveling. Sunil Babu even initiated to start Nepal’s first traveling agency, Pink Mountain, to promote tourism and conduct gay/lesbian marriage among individuals in Nepal for a short time starting in the year 2010. Courtney Mitchell and Sarah Welton were all over the headlines for same-sex marriage in a Nepali temple the same year.
Pant believes that there is an untapped market for LGBTQ marriage in Nepal that can be successfully taken to a whole new potential with some added efforts.
Laws about LGBTQ in Nepal
Nepal has been very accepting of the LGBTQ community in many ways. However, there have been some social stigmas and violence against the people from the community for many years that are yet to be canceled out through newfound laws in the country. Nepal, unfortunately, is yet to provide a safe haven for the LGBTQ community in the nation to this day.
However, LGBTQ educators like Pant, who is also a former lawmaker, believe that the potential of Nepal to promote the community is still not explored despite the greater possibilities. And the historical places and the values held by Nepalese temples and illustrations with regard to the LGBTQ community have always been uplifting and spiritually refreshing for many centuries.