#Queer Rights


Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation Trust, addressed a Gender Sensitisation Programme at Delhi University. She highlighted the role of the Internal Complaint Committee in fostering inclusivity. Gopalan emphasised the need for uniform codes of conduct, backed by her experiences, urging for the unlearning of social norms and promoting equal rights for all.

The Naz Foundation (India) Trust on Friday, 22nd March, conducted a gender sensitisation seminar for members of the University of Delhi’s Internal Complaint Committee (ICC). The event took place at the Department of Botany, North Campus and also saw attendance by members of the current Delhi University Student Union.

Anjali Gopalan, the speaker of the event, established the Naz India in 1994 to develop sensitivity and address HIV/AIDS and sexuality. Naz india conducts awareness and support sessions for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as counselling and referral for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Ms Gopalan talked about the general nature of the ICC around the country and the role that they play in making the academic environment at various levels more inclusive and accepting to the gender diversity.

The ICC throughout the Delhi University Campuses and its different colleges do not have a uniform code of conduct. Due to this, while dealing with the gender-sensitive matters of discovering their identity and HIV-related discussions. The program hosted an insightful delivery by Ms Gopalan, where she talked about various delicate issues and answered questions like what to do to make the environment of the ICC more approachable, how the training of the personnel contributes to enhanced outcomes of the help provided along with the general nature of the change that has taken place throughout the years in the direction towards making gender-neutral safe places around the country.

Ms. Gopalan’s answers were backed by years of experiences advocating for and fighting for the queer community. She covered aspects ranging from adult social circles to primary school settings and the challenges they impose, preventing people from the LGBTQ+ community from exercising their rights. Some of the topics along which the discussion that followed centred around the unlearning and re-learning of rigid social norms, language and pronouns and the resistance they put against the suppression and the existing hostilities in the current environment that others everything that does not fit the conventional norms.

In conversation with DU Beat, while talking more on the subject matter, Ms Gopalan said:

I have been working for the awareness programs since 1987. It’s been an incredible journey in many ways for me it is a matter of rights, everything is about whether for an animal or for a human. I think everyone should have access to rights. To me, I am still amazed that even now people of the community in our country don’t have the same rights. I do not understand why and how can we as people deny our own people the rights that everyone takes for granted.”

Anjali Gopalan, Naz India

Ms. Gopalan’s impassioned advocacy for equal rights resonated deeply with attendees, serving as a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey towards equality. Naz India is now aiming at promoting this initiative in individual colleges’ ICCs as well.

As the event concluded, participants were inspired to continue engaging in open dialogue and striving for greater inclusivity within their respective academic environments. Ms Gopalan’s address stands as a testament to the enduring commitment to advocating for the rights of marginalised communities and building a society where everyone is valued and respected, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Read Also: Stories of Love, Acceptance, and Triumph

Divya Malhotra

[email protected]

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]