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Asia's first gay sports tournament begins in Nepal

Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

A reveler holds the gay pride flag during the opening ceremony of the first South Asia Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, LGBT, Sports Festival in Kathmandu, October 12, 2012. The three-day long event is organized by the Blue Diamond Society, a LGBT rights group, to promote the equality, rights and social justice of LGBT through sports, according to Sunil Babu Pant, managing director of BDS.

Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

An athlete practices during the first South Asia LGBT Sports Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 12.

AFP reports — Hundreds of athletes Friday took part in Asia's first-ever sports tournament for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, organizers said.

The three-day event at the national football stadium and other venues around Kathmandu kicked off with a soccer match between local teams.

The tournament features basketball, volleyball, football, martial arts and tennis, said The Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's leading gay rights group.

Some 300 local athletes had signed up for the games while 20 gay athletes arrived from countries including the United States, Russia, Japan, France and Bangladesh, Pant said.

Gay Olympic diving gold champion Greg Louganis, who is attending the event, is the big draw.

New Zealand and Australia host the "Asia-Pacific Outgames", another multi-sports gay event. But the event in Nepal has been billed as Asia's first gay games.

Homosexuals in the overwhelmingly Hindu nation have started to become more open about their sexual orientation since the end to the decade-long Maoist civil war in 2006 with the gay community staging beauty contests and other events.

Nepal said in June it would start issuing identity cards with three gender categories -- male, female and transgender.

Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

The shadow of a player casts on the ground while practicing volleyball during the opening ceremony of the first South Asia LGBT Sports Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 12.

Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender players participate in a friendly soccer match during the opening ceremony of the first South Asia LGBT Sports Festival in Kathmandu, Oct. 12.

Niranjan Shrestha / AP

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community hold the gay pride flag during the opening ceremony of the first South Asian LGBT Games organized by Blue Diamond Society in Katmandu, Nepal, Oct. 12. Around 250 LGBT community members are participating in the festival, according to Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant.

Navesh Chitrakar / Reuters

Nepalese police sit during the opening ceremony of the first South Asia LGBT Sports Festival in Kathmandu, Oct. 12.

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