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HIV/AIDS

'All People Want to Do Is Live Their Lives'

Elizabeth Howton's picture

"All people want to do is live their lives." Dr. Suneeta Singh made that simple yet powerful statement during a panel discussion on “Empowering Gender Minorities in South Asia” on March 14, 2012 at the World Bank. Singh, a former Bank staffer and CEO of consulting firm Amaltas, spoke via videoconference from Delhi, India, while Nepal’s first openly gay elected official, Sunil Babu Pant, dialed in from Kathmandu.World Bank panel discussion on gender indentity in South Asia

Pant told the story of how he built a grassroots movement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in Nepal, beginning in 2001. A turning point was in 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgendered people “are natural” and mandated certain benefits and an end to discriminatory laws. Today, the country is drafting a new constitution, and Pant said that if passed, it will be one of the most progressive in the world with regard to the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

Finding Beauty in Nepal's Third Gender

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

The winner (National HIV/AIDS Ambassador) Sandhya Lama with film maker Catherine Donaldson. Photo credit Vincent Claeson.

 

What creativity that emerged from a competition on reducing the HIV related stigma and discrimination! In 2008, the South Asia Region of the World Bank put out a call for proposals for innovative ideas that tackle stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. Proposals had to target vulnerable populations such as transgender, men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, sex workers, and people living with HIV and AIDS. From the resulting 1,000 submissions, 75 finalists were identified and 26 winning projects were awarded funds for an 18 month implementation period. Projects used numerous creative ways to decrease discrimination through the use of theater, songs, new businesses and even a beauty pageant! Whoa, a beauty pageant, in development? This made me stop in my tracks. I had to find out more.