Learning from Human Rights Defenders
After almost 20 years of Nepal's queer rights movement, it is a hot cake in the international community as one of the most progressive countries for queer rights. International media covers stories of success from Nepal and present it as a successful movement in South Asia. Rukshana Kapali’s talk will address what it is like to live in Nepal as a queer person and how she and others within the movement disagree that the country is progressive. Some argue that Nepal is progressive on paper but not in legal implementation, yet even the legal reality is not necessarily what is shown to the outside.
What was once thought to be progressive, may appear otherwise now. 20 years on, with a new generation stepping in, previous milestones have become barriers and what was once thought to be progressive are now regressive toxic ideas. Rukshana’s talk will give an insight into how Nepal's queer movement has formed a monotony and disallowed diverse narratives to grow in, how certain voices are silenced and the queer movement in Nepal is presented as a united front lead by a singular entity.
Rukshana Kapali began her work as an LGBTIQ activist in the Blue Diamond Society, a large LGBTIQ rights advocacy organization in Nepal, where she documented human rights violations of LGBTIQ people and registered them with the National Human Rights Commission.
In 2019 Rukshana initiated a youth-focused Queer / MOGAI rights group with an intersectional approach called Queer Youth Group. The Group started their activism through advocating for legal gender recognition of trans and non-binary people in the citizenship bill of Nepal, and working with the Ministry of Education on trans and non-binary friendly provisions.
Besides her LGBTIQ activism, Rukshana is an indigenous rights activist, coming from the Newa community who are indigenous to Kathmandu Valley. Rukshana, alongside other community members, have initiated the #SaveNepaValley movement, which advocates for participatory development.