by Rev. Stephen R. Parelli. Bronx, New York. Last evening, just two days before Jose and I were to leave for Kathmandu, Nepal, we were able to meet in person, for the first time, Sunil Babu Pant of Nepal (pictured at left) at the Gay Center of New York City on West 13th Street, where he participated in a panel discussion on traditional, complementary and alternative therapies for HIV, sponsored by the New York Buyers' Club in celebration of their Fifth Anniversary. Jose and I attended the event.
Photo at left: Sunil Babu Pant, panelist, June 24, 2009, Gay Center, NYC Photo by Steve Parelli
In February, we first corresponded with Sunil Pant about our up-coming Other Sheep visit to Nepal. He notified us of his visit to New York City and invited us to meet him at this panel discussion. Last evening, we gave Sunil a portfolio to take with him of our work with Other Sheep since 2005. Sunil has expressed a desire in helping to introduce us to possible interested individuals and groups in Nepal, for which we are grateful.
Presently, through our Other Sheep eNews, five different and unrelated Christian leaders of Nepal (identities withheld) have asked to meet with us in Nepal.
According to the info sheet on the panelists, handed out at the New York Buyers' Club meeting last evening, Sunil Pant is the first openly gay Member of the Constituent Assembly (Parliament) of Nepal, and the Founder and Director of the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), a community-based organization that has worked for the rights of sexual minorities and people with HIV since 2001. BDS played an active role in Nepal’s transition from a conservative (and homophobic) monarchy to a federal republic in 2006-7, and subsequently has been successful in several advocacy campaigns, including the effort to legalize gay marriage, making Nepal the first Asian country to do so. Now counting more than 150,000 members, BDS continues to provide care and support to Nepalis with HIV/AIDS, while also working to reduce stigma and discrimination against the Himalayan nation’s sexual minorities. In 2007, BDS received the Felipa de Souza award from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which called it “one of the most effective human rights groups in the world.”
Photo at left, from left to right: Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep Coordinator for Asia, George M. Carter, Director and Co-Founder of the Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR), and Sunil Babu Pant, Member of the Constituent Assembly (Parliament) of Nepal, and the Founder and Director of the Blue Diamond Society.
Photo taken June 24, 2009, Gay Center, NYC
Photo by Steve Parelli