The wait is over: The winner of the Mr Gay Handsome Nepal 2017 has been crowned.
Manindra Singh was given the trophy at an event Tuesday night, as well as a cash prize of 50,000 rupees (a little less than $500).
Singh (above center) is definitely a thirst-quencher, but the Blue Diamond Society, the LGBT rights group that organizes the event, says the pageant is also focused on gay men who will champion gay rights in Nepal, not just the handsome ones.
Tuesday’s contest was the third edition of the Gay Mr. Handsome Nepal contest. (The first was was held in 2013.) Singh will now represent Nepal at Mr. Gay World 2018 in Knysna, South Africa.
Before the show contestants were given training and tips by former Miss Nepal Malvika Subba. On Facebook, emcee Subeksha Khadka praised the event for “breaking stereotypes” and “empowering [gay men] to stand proud for who they are.”
Since the collapse of the monarch in 2007, Nepal has been considered one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in South Asia: In 2015, the new constitution included sexual orientation and gender identity in the Nepal’s anti-discrimination laws.
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It also affirmed the rights of sexual minorities to access public services and to have their preferred gender displayed on official ID.
While the advances were initially celebrated, Nepal’s LGBT community has been frustrated at the lack of implementation on the community level, as many gay and trans people still face violence and stigma. (A bill to legalize same-sex marriage fell apart in Parliament in 2010.)
In August 2016, nearly a thousand people gathered in Kathmandu to demand the government make good on its promise.