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16 Mar 2010

Nepal to woo gay tourists

Nepal wants a larger slice of the multibillion-dollar gay tourist market and is promoting the possibility of organising the world's highest same-sex 'weddings' at Everest base.

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Openly gay Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla in Gujarat, India and his Nepalese partner were rumoured to be the first celebrity gay couple to publicly marry on the slopes of Mount Everest early this year but the prince had to postpone his trip indefinitely due to a general strike threat issued by Maoists insurgents. The country, which sits at the base of the Himalayas, is still struggling to recover from a decade-long civil war and beset by political instability.

Nepal is now officially wooing gay travelers, honeymooners and couples who want to take their vows at the Everest base camp, scream newspaper headlines this week.

Working with Community Marketing Inc, a San Francisco-based gay and lesbian market research and communications firm, openly gay Nepal Member of Parliament and founder of Pink Mountain tour company Sunil Babu Pant wants to paint Mount Everest pink.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that tourism is one of the main drivers of Nepal's economy, worth about US$350 million last year, and government officials are determined to double tourism to 1 million visitors next year.

Sunil Pant, Nepal's first and only openly gay Member of Parliament, and founder of gay advocacy group Blue Diamond Society.

Nepal's tourism stakeholders are hoping that gay tourism will be “far more lucrative than the backpackers who stay in cheap hotels here and travel on shoestring budgets.

"They do have a lot of income... they are high-spending consumers," said Aditya Baral, a spokesman for the Nepal Tourism Board who was quoted by AP. "If they behave well, if they have money, we don't discriminate."

The report quotes Pant as saying that the Parliament is working on a same-sex marriage law and expects it to be ratified later this year. However, weddings between foreigners – same-sex or opposite sex - will not have any legal status even if conducted in Nepal.

In 2008, Nepal became the first country in the world to officially recognise a "third gender" with the government issuing identity cards that identify holders as such. The scheme is not targeted at gay men or lesbians but individuals whose gender identity is not aligned with his or her biological sex – such as metis, biological males who typically have a feminine orientation and physical appearance but may or may not wish to undergo sex realignment surgery. 

Nepal

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-03-17 13:38
Great! Surely a big step ahead of some 'developed' countries!

Nepal is as deeply steep in culture as it is in romance. Although a very tolerant society, the general public have a conservative view towards gays. They are generally friendly. Very patriachal. It is in the interest of those who choose to go there as visitors (and future gays visitors) to be respectful and not to try to test the System or the people because the laws there are still not always enforced.
2. 2010-03-17 13:49
"if they have money, we don't discriminate."
Wow...they couldn't be MORE BLUNT.
Ha Ha Ha
Comment #3 was deleted by its author on 2010-03-17 16:37
4. 2010-03-17 16:42
It sounds all wonderful if it could be kept more 'high brow' and strictly attract decent Gay couples to either have commitment ceremonies or legitimately holiday, but will it decay to the same level as most other gay tolerant tourist destinations in Asia where the gay western tourist goes to exploit Asian youth sexually and encourages prostitution and disease? That can't be guaranteed, personally I think the Nepalese would be better to by pass wooing homosexual men in-mass if they care about avoiding sexual health problems and their youth being lured by skanky old queers.
5. 2010-03-17 18:16
Now that I'm 38, perhaps some would call Me "a skanky old queer", seeing as 'Gay Years' are something like 'Dog Years'. But, as I can still make it up stairs by myself - just about - perhaps I'd also consider skipping over Nepalese mountain ranges as well - well, I'd have to keep my mouth shut, considering a few disconcerting political issues about Nepal, and I'm not entirely sure why you'd get married in a remote country that, err, is also the only place to legally recognise such a rite, but I'll keep it in mind...
6. 2010-03-17 18:56
who want to get married with me in Nepal???
7. 2010-03-17 20:13
My congrats to everyone in Nepal involved with this effort. I would like to share the following link to a previous interview with MP Sunil Babu Pant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afeKWPdEspc

If for some reason the above link is inactive in your browser, just search YouTube for Sunil Babu Pant and my video comes up at the top.
8. 2010-03-17 21:36
damn i should get married that time when am infront of that mount .... sigh ... miss the chances already
9. 2010-03-17 23:24
Nepal is always so beautifully fascinating and ... gay! ... xoxoxoxo
10. 2010-03-18 00:00
finally they are making use of their head!

Go Nepal!
11. 2010-03-18 01:12
LOL... If you behave well, and you have money, I won't discriminate against you... come to me boys!
12. 2010-03-18 05:40
Good to know another country in Asia is becoming move aware of the GLBT community's purchasing power! Not sure if I'd go to Nepal to marry my bf, but hooray for those gay brothers and lesbian sisters who will tie the knot 'closer to the heavens'!
13. 2010-03-18 15:59
I guess they are capitalising on the beauty of the scenery along with their more relaxed liberal laws with regards to gays and marriages.

Commenter 4 does have his point though in defense, it isn't always the "gay western tourist" that exploit; many Asian counterpart would happily exploit too.
Comment edited on 2010-03-18 16:00:05
14. 2010-03-19 17:09
will they allow polygamous marriages? I want multiple husbands! :P
15. 2010-03-20 15:18
Obviously they are going all out to allow more options other than a Buddhist ceremony on Sagarmatha/Chomolungma/Everest?

And one thought that comes to mind is the potential for a marriage tribute film, Bollywood style, following in the theme of - The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, 1994 Film, Australia;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Priscilla,_Queen_of_the_Desert

Now that would be a journey - not so much a ''road trip'' but a road & trail trip........

Namaste. \0/
16. 2010-03-20 15:23
And my apologies to the HINDUs of Nepal - Nepal is certainly Hindu.
17. 2010-03-20 15:50
ade_oz: why apologies to Hindus? Hindu philosophy is not against gays or homosexuals. In fact, it recognises the presence of both masculine and feminine components in the individual. Hindu mythology contains transgender characters playing central roles. Do a search on "Khajuraho" to see pictures of how sexuality is portrayed in ancient Indian temples.

And yet, there are ignorant idiots in India, including plenty of Hindus, who actually believe that homosexuality is a "filthy western import".

The irony is that the anti-gay Article 377, which these people defend stridently, is the real "filthy western import", introduced by the British to protect the natives from wayward British citizens or whatever. These people should be offering the apologies -- for unmitigated stupidity.

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