Woman Army Officer Expelled in Nepal Because She is a Lesbian, Say Activists

by Gopalan on  July 2, 2008 at 12:51 PM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
 Woman Army Officer Expelled in Nepal Because She is a Lesbian, Say Activists
Bahkti Shah, a physical training instructor, has been expelled from the Nepalese army on grounds of indiscipline. The woman's appeal against her sacking has been rejected by an army court.

She has been thrown out because she is a lesbian, charge activists.

Shah, who was based at a barracks near the capital, Kathmandu, was one of two women expelled from the military after being kept in army detention for several weeks.

She filed an appeal at the army's special court supported by two activist organizations.

Army spokesman Brig Gen Ramindra Chetri told the BBC Shah had not been expelled for lesbianism but for two other things - violating military discipline and the army's code of conduct, and collecting money from cadets for her personal benefit.

He refused to elaborate but did say that army instructors should not go to out-of-bounds areas including cadets' barracks.

A special army court has now dismissed Bahkti Shah's appeal against her sacking.

The other woman did not appeal and has gone underground.

On paper at least the rights of sexual minorities have recently advanced in Nepal more rapidly than in other South Asian countries.

Gay men and women and members of other sexual minorities have long complained of discrimination in Nepal.

But six months ago the country's Supreme Court ordered the government to scrap laws that discriminated against homosexuals.

The court ordered that sexual minorities should be guaranteed the same rights as other citizens.

In their ruling, two Supreme Court judges said: "The government of Nepal should formulate new laws and amend existing laws in order to safeguard the rights of these people.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society."

Sunil Panta MP and president of Blue Diamond Society, a gay rights group, has denounced the sacking of Shah as undemocratic and ridiculous.

The military court's verdict is a breach of the Supreme Court verdict that recognizes the existence of the third sex, Panta said.

Source: Medindia

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