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The EJAF's Nepal Work Suffers a Setback

Friday 20 July 2007 @ 16:04 - GMT

An HIV/AIDS intervention programme in Nepal's backward far west region, which started two months ago with funding from Elton, has received a setback due to homophobia and ignorance among government officials, programme officials said.

Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal's only gay rights organisation, said it had been asked to stop its support programme for gays and transgenders who are HIV positive in Dhangadi district on the ground that gays 'polluted' society.

Two months ago, BDS opened an outpost with three employees to provide support to the HIV positive in the region, especially gays and transgenders.

The programme is being sponsored by the Elton John AIDS Foundation that has announced a grant of 25,000 pounds for BDS' AIDS intervention projects.

''There is an increasing number of gays, transgenders and males with HIV in the far west,'' BDS president Sunil Pant said. ''Since the outpost started, we have sent more than 15 people living with HIV to Kathmandu for further support, treatment and hospice facility.''

But the public health officer Krishna Bhatta has suggested that the chances of contracting HIV/AIDS have been overblow.

So there is no need for the BDS care and support programme in Dhangadi, Bhatta reportedly said.

Bhatta, who apparently is not aware who Elton is, also wanted to see the donor as well as proof that there were HIV affected gays and transgenders in Dhangadi.

He also told a BDS representative that Elton should attend the next District Aids Coordinating Committee meeting in Dhangadi to discuss whether the government should allow AIDS intervention programmes for gays in the district or not.

Bhatta was supported by at least two others present at the meeting who said a support programme for gays would encourage more homosexual activities and 'pollute' society.

Only last week, policemen assaulted five young men for carrying condoms, accusing them of being male sex workers.