After openly gay Nepali MP Sunil Babu Pant launched Pink Mountain Travels and Tours, the first Nepali travel agency for gay tourists, in early 2010, the agency has received its first group bookings from gay Buddhists who want to follow the Buddha’s footsteps. From Sify News:

‘We already have three groups from Britain, France and the Netherlands, and there are queries from the US,’ said Pant, the founder of the gay rights movement in what was a rigid Nepali society in the last decade. ‘They are from the Gay Buddhist Sangh (GBS), an organisation with members all over Europe. They travel in groups for joint meditation and pilgrimage to the places associated with the Buddha – Nepal, India, Thailand and Myanmar,’ Pant said.

‘We seek to introduce the teachings of the Buddha to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) folk in such a way that we honour and respect all beings and where they are in their lives, and help them to preserve a healthy and positive self-image, particularly about their sexuality,’ says the GBS charter.

‘We strive to provide a refuge and safe place where LGBT people can feel supported and valued as they cultivate the practice of these teachings and learn how to apply them in practical ways to their everyday lives. We do so for the benefit of ourselves, our community and all sentient beings,’ it says.

Nepal has named 2011 as “tourism year” with the goal of bringing 1 million tourists to the country before 2012. Pant hopes to draw 200,000 gay, lesbian, and transgendered vistors.

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