KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Hundreds of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites are parading through Nepal’s capital to celebrate Gaijatra, a Hindu festival gleefully overtaken each year by the country’s gay community and cheered by onlookers.
Thousands of Nepalese lined the cobblestoned streets of Katmandu’s old city Monday to catch a glimpse of those parading, some carrying banners or rainbow-colored balloons, others tooting horns and ringing chimes.
In the socially conservative Hindu-majority nation, the festival was traditionally the only day people felt free to cross-dress. But norms are changing fast as this fledgling Himalayan democracy emerges from centuries of religious monarchy.
A government committee is recommending same-sex marriage be guaranteed in a new constitution, giving gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt, buy joint property, open joint bank accounts and inherit from one another.