My name is Sunil Babu Pant. I am the founder and president of Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and interest) rights organization and a member of Nepal’s parliament. I am writing today to encourage you to include the needs and vulnerabilities of LGBTI people (as well as sexual and gender minorities who do not identify with that acronym) in your conversations at the Rio+20 disaster risk reduction forum.
In your brief you highlight social inclusion, which is an important measure. Sexual and gender minorities need to be a part of this campaign for inclusion.
Research has shown that LGBTI people suffer in the wake of disasters because of increased social marginalization in desperate situations, and exacerbated social exclusion beforehand. In Nepal, we have been working with partners such as USAID and the Red Cross to develop inclusive policies and protocols that involve the LGBTI community in disaster risk reduction, and sensitize and train relief officials in the particular considerations of this community.
In relief policies and protocols, there are several important considerations for ensuring inclusion of the LGBTI population, including:
* how the definition of "family" or "household" may affect
same-sex couples and their households, groups of people who do not live in traditional family units, and homeless people or people who migrate;
* how gender-variant and transgender people can safely access facilities such as health clinics, bathrooms, and shelters which are male-female gender-segregated;
* how government-issued identification documents are used to validate citizens or grant access, and how this might affect people whose current appearance does not match the gender listed and the photo presented on the documents;
* how people living with HIV/AIDS can access appropriate Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in a safe and timely manner;
* and how all data collection and intake surveys and databases can be adjusted to capture meaningful data on LGBTI populations in emergency situations.
Additional research has shown that engagement with LGBTI communities in disaster risk reduction and relief programs can prove useful not only for our own population but for broader communities as well. Many of our community-based organizations operate efficient and effective grassroots
communications networks – and deal with emergency situations on a regular basis. Sexual and gender minorities often organize under stressful circumstances and threats of violence. In Nepal, our movement began formally during a 10-year internal armed conflict during which security was high.
In Nepal, Blue Diamond Society and our partners are hopeful that substantive and participatory engagement in disaster risk reduction will save lives, uplift marginalized communities, and serve as a model of effective engagement between donors, aid providers, and local organizations.
Please do not hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions.
Sunil B. Pant