One of our diverse SOGIESC #RealLifeHeroes is Manisha from Blue Diamond Society in Nepal. Manisha uses she / her pronouns and is the current Executive Director of Blue Diamond Society. Established in 2001, Blue Diamond Society is an LGBT+ advocacy organisation in Nepal. Blue Diamond Society has played a central role in the advancement of LGBT+ rights in Nepal.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
As a transgender women, I have and continue to face discrimination and stigma. This has been happening since childhood from family, school, in public places, from service providers and from the state. These challenges give me the power to work towards social change for the sexual and gender minority communities. I try to change the mindset of the people at various levels of society including policy makers.
Tell us about your humanitarian experience
Nepal faced the devastating Gorkha earthquake in 2015 where more than 10,000 people died, and many more become homeless. Blue Diamond Society did not have the capacity to deal with such a humanitarian disaster. Before the earthquake, Blue Diamond Society had a HIV prevention program and human rights program. We really didn’t know what to do. We circulated appeal for support and was able to generate funds to help us in our recovery efforts. We supported our LGBTIQ+ community and their families and fixed our office. We organised 15 campsites in Kathmandu and organised a kitchen in our care support centre for our community. We mobilised our community to search for missing friends, organise funerals for our LGBTIQ+ community members, and we were also volunteered in the hospital.
We have been involved in humanitarian work during the earthquake and in the COVID-19 pandemic, but since its establishment, Blue Diamond has been supporting LGBTIQ+ people against police harassment, any legal cases from family, workplace, any need of medical and surgical case where community members need support. We think these are also emergencies situation for us.
In this time of Covid-19 pandemic, many LGBTIQ+ people have been facing challenges to survive, with issues connected to their livelihoods, and discrimination in relief distribution. In both humanitarian situations, LGBTIQ+ people in Nepal have experienced discrimination during emergency relief distribution from the state, signalling a lack of recognition at policy level of the LGBTIQ community.
Working with the grassroots community, people really want Blue Diamond Society to support them as for many LGBTIQ+ people, we are one of the frontline pioneer organisations that stands up to help. Blue Diamond Society calls for action from humanitarian agencies by providing emergency relief in the form of food, other necessary non-food items, inclusive dignity kits for our LGBTIQ+ community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Blue Diamond Society has also organized counselling for mental health issues through webinar with support from mental health experts. Blue Diamond Society is raising the voices of community to end inequalities during the pandemic situation.
How are you connected to Edge Effect?
I am currently on a regional advisory board for Edge Effect that is undertaking research in Bangladesh, Philippines and Vanuatu on how inclusive the humanitarian system is for LGBTIQ+ people. In the other hand, we have been coordinating with Edge Effect during the current COVID-19 humanitarian crisis situation. Blue Diamond Society also has a relationship with Edge Effect looking for future project opportunities.
What are some of the challenges you face in advocating for more inclusion in the humanitarian system?
Government do not have any inclusive policies for LGBTIQ people. These are main challenges for LGBTIQ+ people, that and the mindset is still gender binary.
If there was one change that you would like to see for LGBTIQ+ people, what would that change be?
End inequalities through inclusive policy
What are ways can humanitarian and development organisations support LGBTIQ+ inclusion?
They should include LGBTIQ+ people in their policies, funding opportunities, and they should proactively approach us during these kind of humanitarian situation. Humanitarian agencies should also welcome LGBTIQ + people for jobs, consultancy and funding for LGBTIQ+ organizations.