Social Issues

Nepal’s human rights commission recommends legalization of same-sex marriage

Kathmandu, July 1 (efe-epa).- Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday recommended the government to legalize same-sex marriage in order to ensure that people of different gender identities and sexual orientations could enjoy their rights without discrimination.

The secretary of the commission, Bed Bhattarai, told EFE that the constitutional human rights watchdog had urged the government to enact laws and regulations allowing marriage between two individuals of the same sex in a study report on sexual minorities released on Wednesday.

“While Nepal is often hailed as a progressive beacon of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) individuals in the region, there are no legislations that ensure rights of the community without discrimination,” he said.

Bhattarai said the commission will keep exerting pressure on the government to bring a law in this regard and also “review its progress on different international forums.”

Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society – the country’s oldest LGBTIQ rights organization – said it was unfortunate that same-sex marriage has not been legalized in Nepal even though this was already recommended five years ago by an expert committee formed on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Gurung, a transwoman, told EFE that LGBTIQ rights organizations had filed a writ in the Supreme Court in 2004 to ensure rights of their community, after which the apex court passed a landmark verdict in 2007 to grant citizenship to LGBTIQ individuals along with forming the committee to review same-sex marriage.

“The (committee’s) report was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2015 and forwarded to the Ministry of Women and Social Development. But since then, there is no development on the issue,” the activist said. .

The 2007 Supreme Court verdict had not just acknowledged the rights of sexual minorities, but also directed the government to make necessary arrangements – including new laws or amendments to existing ones – to ensure that people of different gender identities and sexual orientations were not discriminated against.

The government has since then started providing citizenship and passports under the special ‘O’, or ‘other’ gender category.

However, authorities are considering an amendment to the citizenship law making it mandatory to furnish proof of gender reassignment before allowing transgender individuals to claim citizenship under their new identity.

“That’s nonsense and this communist government wants to curtail our rights,” said Gurung.

According to the NHRC, only 170 individuals have received citizenship under the ‘O’ category so far, while 1,500 people identified themselves under the category in the 2011 national census.

The report said that these figures are not representative of the actual population of the LGBTIQ community in the country. Gurung said that there were an estimated 900,000 transgender people in Nepal.

The NHRC report also concluded that the transgender community continues to face “significant discrimination” in Nepal and recommended that the government bring a special law for ensuring a “positive discrimination” policy for transgenders as well as offering scholarships and hostel facilities to boost education among them.

The commission also recommended the creation of a special fund to support those wishing to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Law permitting marriage between two individuals of the same sex has so far been legalized in 29 countries worldwide. EFE-EPA

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