Crime & Justice

Nepal registers first same-sex marriage in South Asia

Kathmandu, Nov 29 (EFE).- Nepal registered its first same-sex marriage on Wednesday after a top court ruling in June, opening legal doors for hundreds of LGBTQ+ people seeking marriage equality and becoming the only South Asian nation to allow it thus far.

The marriage of Maya Gurung, 41, and Surendra Pandey, 25, was registered in the Dordi rural municipality of Lamjung.

Maya belongs to the transgender community, and Surendra is gay.

“This makes Nepal the first country in South Asia to allow marriage registration of same-sex couples,” Pinky Gurung, president of Blue Diamond Society, told EFE.

The society is a group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, and asexual rights.

“We are extremely happy. This is our victory. Now, we will exert pressure to enact the law through parliament.”

The development comes a month after India’s Supreme Court declined to legalize same-sex unions, dashing the hopes of millions of LGBTQ+ people in the country of 1.4 billion people.

Maya and Pandey were married on Oct. 13, 2017, following Hindu rituals.

“Both our families accepted us. But legally, we could not be husband and wife,” Maya told EFE. “Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling. We are now a couple, legally.”

Maya said their marriage registration has now opened the doors for hundreds of LGBTQ+ couples to marriage equality.

“There are still hundreds of such couples who don’t want to come out openly in society due to the lack of law for marriage,” said Maya. “(The) landmark decision will encourage more couples to accept the relationship openly and lawfully.”

Maya has now launched the rights group aimed at launching campaigns for marriage equality.

“The law has accepted us. But society does not. We have to convince people and this will be challenging.”

Pandey, the bridegroom, expressed happiness after the local government accepted their marriage legally.

“We are very happy. In this historic moment, we remember all the leaders and friends of our sexual and gender minority communities,” Pandey wrote on his Facebook page.

“It is an assurance that Nepal has given us respect as citizens today. On this historic day, we first wish and congratulate you.”

Nepal’s top court in June issued an interim order to the government to ensure the marriage registration of same-sex couples and other non-traditional heterosexual couples in the country.

In 2007, following a Supreme Court ruling, Nepal’s constitution recognized LGBT rights as fundamental.

The court also issued an order to amend or scrap all discriminatory laws and to legalize same-sex marriage.

In 2015, a committee formed to study same-sex marriage submitted an 85-page report to the Prime Minister’s Office, recommending the legalization of same-sex marriage, which never translated into law.

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