This September 12, 2007 file photo shows Nepali transgender people, dressed in ethnic costumes, prior to a performance at the close of their meeting in Kathmandu- AFP Photo

KATHMANDU: Nepal's transgender community has sent blessings to Prince William and Kate Middleton ahead of their wedding and offered to send someone to the ceremony.

Transgender people in Nepal, mostly men living as women who are known as "hijras" or eunuchs, are considered auspicious at weddings in South Asia, where they are often paid to sing, dance and give blessings to the couple.

"Following this tradition, we are offering blessings to Prince William and Kate Middleton for their happy conjugal life," said Pradeep Khadka, programme officer of the gay rights group Blue Diamond Society.

The group has sent a letter to the British embassy in Kathmandu proposing to send someone for the April 29 extravaganza that will be one of the biggest royal occasions in 30 years.

“The UK government has been very supportive of our cause. And the royal family is reported to have expressed its support for gay rights," Khadka said.

Nepal, which has an openly gay parliamentarian, has made large strides on gender and gay issues in recent years to guarantee the rights of transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

In January, the country announced that the national census, which begins in May, will include a new category for transgender people.

Despite being accepted as part of weddings and other ceremonies, transgender people and eunuchs -- men who have been castrated -- live on the extreme fringes of South Asian society.

With the jobs market closed to them because of discrimination, many resort to prostitution and begging.

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