Nepal MP offers honeymoon package to gay Indian prince
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s first and only openly gay member of parliament, who is also the founder of the gay rights movement in the conservative republic, has offered a wedding and honeymoon package to Indian icon for the sexual minorities, Manvendra Singh Gohil, the crown prince of Rajkot.
Sunil Babu Pant, who was nominated to Nepal’s newly elected parliament after a historic election last year, has formed the country’s first tourist agency for gays, lesbians and transgenders, and has obtained the blessings of Tourism Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari to promote Nepal as a holiday destination where sexual minorities can combine weddings with adventure tourism.
Pink Mountains Travels and Tours, registered under the ministry of small-scale industries, has already received a booking from an American lesbian couple who want to travel to Nepal in 2011 and marry there while a second couple, featuring a Filipino and an Arab in Dubai, have been in touch, saying they would book as soon as Nepal gets new laws legalizing same-sex marriages.
In February, Pink Mountains is hosting the 1st Asian Gays’ Symposium in Kathmandu to officially debut as the promoter of gay tourism in Nepal. On the panel of speakers will be the 44-year-old Gohil, the only Indian royal to come out of the closet.
Pant and Gohil met at a conference on HIV in Bangkok in 2007. While Pant was representing Blue Diamond Society, the gay rights group he founded in 2001, Gohil was there on behalf of his Lakshya Trust that is working to promote gay rights in conservative India. The two struck up an easy camaraderie and Gohil said he would love to travel to Nepal and observe how the BDS worked.
So late October, when Pant came across a report in the Indian media, saying Gohil wanted to tie the knot with his 29-year-old fiancé, Prajwal Miskin, and the two were thinking of going to Nepal to do that, he contacted Gohil and offered him the services of his tourist agency.
Nepal is the only country in South Asia where the Supreme Court has recognized same-sex marriages and asked the government to enact laws to make such unions possible. While Pant and the sexual minority community are lobbying to ensure that the court verdict is honored, they have to still wait till May 28, 2010 when Nepal will promulgate a new constitution.
"Once there are laws for same-sex marriages in Nepal, we will be deluged by gay tourists who will want to avail of the facility," Pant said. "We are asking the government to issue certificates to non-Nepalis who would like to get married in Nepal."
Gay tourists are an untapped market and Pant says Nepal, that is gearing up to bring 1 million foreign tourists in 2011, should innovate. "The best part is," he says, "there will be no competitor in the region."
The Times of India