Nepal launches 'gay Olympics'

Nepal is to stage Asia's first ever multi-sport games for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, organisers announced on Monday.

The two-week event at the national football stadium and other venues around Kathmandu will feature track and field, volleyball, football, martial arts and tennis, said The Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's leading gay rights group.

"Renowned and respected Nepali athletes will support as coaches and referees for the program," said organiser Sunil Pant, the country's only openly gay lawmaker in a statement.

Asia already stages the 'Asia-Pacific Outgames', another multi-sport gay event, but this has only been hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Nepal's version which is due to take place in late September will be the first in Asia.

"The aims for organising the Blue Diamond National Sport Competition 2012 are to mainstream LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) into the larger society, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage physical fitness, and promote health mentally and spiritually," said Pant.

Nepal is a conservative, Hindu country which nonetheless has some of the most progressive policies on homosexuality in Asia. A landmark 2007 court ruling ordered the government to enact laws guaranteeing the rights of gays.

The country's new constitution, currently being drafted by lawmakers, is expected to define marriage as a union between two adults, regardless of gender, and to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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