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Nepal Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage: A Historic Achievement
A historic moment took place in Nepal on November 29 as the country officially recognized its first same-sex marriage. This significant milestone makes Nepal one of the first nations in Asia to allow same-sex marriage, marking a major breakthrough for LGBTQ+ rights in the region.
The Struggle for Recognition
After 23 years of perseverance, the milestone was achieved as Sunil Babu Pant, an openly gay former Parliamentarian and prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist, witnessed the official registration of the marriage between Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung at the Dorje village council office, nestled in the mountains west of Kathmandu, the capital city.
Earlier in the year, Nepal’s supreme court had issued an interim order that paved the way for the registration of same-sex marriages, granting hope to many couples seeking official recognition. However, the road to this historic achievement was not without its challenges.
Initially, officials had refused to register the marriage. Undeterred, the couple, along with Mr. Pant, pursued legal avenues by filing cases with the Kathmandu District Court and the High Court. Despite facing rejection, their unwavering determination eventually led to success.
A Positive Shift
Mr. Pant shared his delight at the unexpected positive turn of events, as the Home Ministry made crucial changes in the process, enabling all local administration offices to register same-sex marriages. This overhaul in policy signified a significant step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in Nepal.
The couple had previously celebrated their union six years ago in a traditional Hindu ceremony at a temple, with the rituals conducted by a priest among their close friends and family. However, their marriage lacked the legal certification that would validate their union.
Significant Legal and Social Progress
Nepal’s transformative journey towards LGBTQ+ rights began in 2007 when a court decision prompted the government to implement changes in favor of the community. Notably, individuals who do not identify as strictly female or male are now empowered to select “third gender” on their passports and other official government documents.
The progressive constitution adopted in 2015 explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, marking a significant legal and societal shift that has reshaped the country’s landscape regarding LGBTQ+ rights and recognition.
As Nepal continues to make strides in recognizing and affirming LGBTQ+ rights, this momentous occasion serves as an inspiration and a beacon of hope for equality and acceptance in the region and beyond.