Nepal – The Progress Story

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Nepal’s groundbreaking strides in LGBTQ+ rights showcase a beacon of hope for global equality. Let’s look into how embracing same-sex marriages goes beyond legalities; it’s about upholding dignity, promoting inclusivity, and celebrating love in all its diversity.

In 2008, Nepal became the first country in South Asia to rule in favour of same-sex marriages. According to the judgements passed in the Supreme Court by Justice Til Prasad Sharma, all the government registries are administering separate records for sexual minorities and non-traditional couples. The permanent constitution in Nepal came into existence in the country in 2015. In 2010, the interim committee provided a draft to legalise same-sex relationships and proposed it for discussion with the constituent assembly. Although the negotiations initially failed, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the Assembly in May 2012 to prepare for the 2013 elections, staying with the conservative segment of the population. He lost the election, and in February 2014, Sushil Koirala became the Prime Minister. The new constitution that came out didn’t directly legalise same-sex marriages, but under Article 18, it ensured recognition as well as protection of “gender and sexual minorities.” 

The case that ignited this struggle was represented in court by Nepal’s first publicly gay rights activist and legislator, Sunil Babu Pant. He not only advocated for equal rights but also went deep into the othering of LGBT people and called for a recognition of queer people as “natural persons.” In 2023, Maya Gurung, a born male who now identifies as female, and Surendra Pandey, a born male who recognises himself as male, registered their marriage in the Dordi rural municipality office in the Lumjung district of West Nepal. Pandey said, “We are very happy. Like us, all others in our community are happy too.” In June 2023, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex couples to register themselves, and in November 2023, they got registered in a local office and gained permanent recognition of their union. Pinky Gurung said, “It is a great achievement for us, the third-gender community in Nepal.”

On February 11, 2024, Nepal became the first country in South Asia to register the first lesbian marriage. Dipti and Supriya registered their union at Jamuna Rural Municipality in Bardiya district. Mayako Pahichan, a non-government organisation (which means “recognition of love”), is a pro-LGBT non-profit working towards supporting LGTB communities in the country. The NGO said, “The Nepalese LGBT communities have launched a campaign for the identity-based rights of the sexual minority communities since 2001, and the campaign has become successful in getting officially registered same-sex marriage after more than two decades of struggle.”

In comparison with the other Southeast and East Asian countries, where the outlook itself is varied, Nepal is a forerunner. According to the Pew Report, countries like Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Thailand have shown the most positive outlook towards same-sex marriages. In contradiction, countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka showcased the least favourable views towards these kinds of unconventionally defined relationships, challenging the conservative take on marriage as an institution. 

In India, the discussion surrounding same-sex marriages occupies a nuanced position. Despite considerable support for LGBTQ+ rights among its populace, the formal acknowledgement of such unions still proves to be a challenge. The recent move by India’s highest judicial body to entrust the issue to the legislative branch emphasises the ongoing battle for equality and underscores the significance of sustained advocacy efforts and grassroots activism. 

Nepal’s advancements in LGBTQ+ rights are a source of inspiration and hope for the world at large. Nepal has shown its dedication to creating a more just and inclusive society where everyone is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, through legislative changes, community mobilisation, and grassroots activism. Nepal is a shining example of the transformational power of social change and group action as it moves closer to achieving full LGBTQ+ equality.

It is imperative to legalise same-sex marriages because they are at the core of the equality, human rights, and social justice that every citizen is entitled to. The validation of their relationship empowers them to escape their abusive surroundings with social backing to make a better life for themselves. To be in a relationship is a matter of personal choice. Any institution that sets up a benchmark for alliances and defines them as natural when it comes to hetrosexual marriages or classifies the rest as an unnatural tie-up motivated only to fulfil sexual gratification needs amendments because we did not give them the authority to ‘other’ the gender minorities. If it isn’t for the sake of human dignity, then it should be settled by upholding the ambiguity innate to love and how each of us devotes ourselves to its fulfilment. 

Read Also: A Step Forward but What Next: Same-Sex Marriage in India?

Featured Image Credits: The Kathmandu Post

Divya Malhotra 

[email protected]

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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