Elderly and Ageing LGBTI + in Nepal: Discrimination in Marriage Equality, Parenting Struggles, Lack of Good Living Arrangements and Family Support Make for a Difficult Life
LGBTI community are discriminated against by the state, the society at large and by their own families. The LGBTI population has a generally difficult life because of the atrocious treatment they have to endure in different aspects of life. Elderly LGBTI go through relatively strenuous situations because of varying unfavorable circumstances. Many LGBTI elderly in Nepal who are in contact with Mitini Nepal’s share that they have adopted children but are unable to provide birth certificates to their child as the state law forbids it. Without a proper birth certificate, a child cannot apply for citizenship at the age of 16, nor can they attend many educational institutions, among other many privileges granted to individuals with birth certificates.
Nepal’s government hasn’t approved of marriage equality laws and as a direct corollary of it LGBTI people have been unable to legally register their child/children’s birth. The lack of birth certificate deprives one to have a normal life as s/he/they cannot acquire any other important legal documents issued by the state such as citizenship, driver’s license and so on.
This flawed system and lack of marriage equality rights have robbed legal parenthood from LGBTI people. As long as LGBTI relationships aren’t legally recognized, parents cannot provide basic rights to their children which have paramount importance in life. Elderly LGBTI are in a labyrinth of suffering as they neither have acceptance from their immediate and distant family, nor can they start their own family because of discriminatory laws of the country.
Individuals are either willfully staying away from their families because of torture and abuse, or have been abdicated by their families because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. Because of the lack of family acceptance, LGBTI have been bereft of receiving their share from parental property.
LGBTI also face extensive problems in health sector. The mistreatment, agonizing behavior and inappropriate interrogation from health care professionals make the patients timid and fearful of going to hospitals. LGBTI avoid going to the hospital which can be hazardous to their health in long term. LGBTI, especially the aging individuals, face many problems because of the devoid of diagnosis, treatment and medication at an early age. As they get older, many new health problems arise and the existing ones may grow severe but as LGBTI’s safety in health institutions is not guaranteed, they are likely to remain untreated.
Elderly and ageing LGBTI individuals lack social security as people in society are still ignorant and hateful towards the LGBTI community. Similarly, transgender men are deprived of their rightful “single women’s allowance” as they are unwilling to claim allowance allocated for women but the government doesn’t have any such allowance or provision for LGBTI community. If there was an allowance solely for LGBTI, it would provide aid to the financially struggling LGBTI individual but the government has turned a blind eye on towards LGBTI.
The existing discrimination towards this elderly and ageing LGBTI minority group and the lack of quotas, reservation and equal opportunity in employment sector has led the community towards a financial dead end. The lack of job security has contributed to the financial insufficiency of LGBTI community and as a result, the older generation of the community has no savings, fund and shelter homes for the rest of their lives. LGBTI, as they grow old, have become reliant on others but as they have absolutely no support from anywhere and no monetary source, they are compelled to live a miserable life.
Due to financial instability and lack of helping hands, many have reached out to Mitini Nepal requesting creation of a shelter home for elderly and ageing LGBTI in Nepal. MN has been providing different capacity building and income generating vocational trainings for the elevation of financial condition of the gender and sexual minority community. The organization has been showcasing elderly LGBTI’s stories and experiences and amplifying the collective as well as individual voices of the community.
Mitini Nepal has been actively doing lobby and advocacy directly with the Member of Parliaments and lawmakers with the aim of highlighting the voices of elders as well as the community. We have huge data gaps in present as we do not have proper and authentic statistics and data of various issues of the LGBTI elderly and ageing in Nepal. Without proper numbers, it is difficult to do strategic planning and to demand our rights from the government. LGBTI issues have been avoided and discarded by policy makers, MPs and the responsible government bodies. Although Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens looks after each of those targeted groups, LGBTI senior citizens are left out of the picture as a specific target group.
The government has failed to address the problems of LGBTI- both young and elderly, and the community, especially the older population, has had to pay the price of the aftermath of family and loved ones’ callousness and the government’s negligence.
Elderly and Ageing LGBTI Media Coverage in Nepal:
It is quite difficult to get the coverage of LGBT elders in media’s. We have few interviews on our Youtube with our elders, which is in Nepali but I am providing the gist of the interviews:
- Tila Kafle, Transgender man (Blue Jacket) is sharing his experience that how stereotype force me to leave home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du80vSkOtHQ&ab_channel=MitiniNepal
Family didn’t understand our emotion and they pressurized me to get married and send me to opposite sex’s home but the reality is i want to bring my partner at our home which they didn’t understand and I decided to wear my dad’s clothes. After that step people started gossiping at me that being women I am wearing flashy clothes which makes me a bad person in their opinion and it forced me to leave home.
- Kiran Malla (Trans Man) and Shree Maya Gurung
They have been living together almost 25 years, sharing their stories on Mitini’s radio program “Mitini Sanga Maan Ka Kura” which broadcast in seven provinces where they are sharing their memories when they realize their sexual orientation and gender identity. It was so difficult in beginning but we completed our hard journey. And now it feels so hard to remember that still we cannot marry and didn’t get any security from family and government but we are hoping that one day we will get it. During interview he share that it was so difficult to travel when he needs toilet and highlighted to have LGBTI friendly toilets. Lastly he give his message to the youth that come in front with your sexuality we are there for you, don’t give up and suicide be strong we need to show our visibility for equal rights.
- Sila Gurung (Transgender man)
LGBTI activist and political party member, has been working on LGBTI issues since 8 years and share the activism difference between 8 years that now it was quite easy to discuss LGBTI’s issues and able to speak freely. I have immense experience working with the political leaders that the political participation is really need but political parties they only use us during election and campaigns. There are many reservation for different cast, religion and ethnicity but there isn’t any reservation for sexual and gender minorities, we also need separate quotas on political parties so that we can also fight for our rights. If we get the opportunity definitely we can do but the reality is we didn’t get any opportunity. Our constitution already mentioned our rights but still it is not yet implemented and we are being biased in ever sectors of state. One the key factor is that I have female citizenship and I want to change my citizenship but it is so difficult to change my citizenship. So with this conflict I am not able to get my rights from state and political parties too. He feels happy and at the same time feels depressed because his cis-gender friends are now parliamentarians who join party together and he is still fighting for his ticket for the election on the name of sexual and gender minorities but he didn’t get this opportunity.
Lastly he shares that If we have right to vote then we have right to be a candidate so make inclusive laws so that we could show our capability to the world.