Nepal Becomes First South Asian Nation to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

Nepal has officially registered its first same-sex marriage, this is a milestone in the largely conservative South Asian country. The union between Maya Gurung, a 35-year-old trans woman, and Surendra Pandey, a 27-year-old gay man, was formally recorded at the Dordi Rural Municipality in Lamjung district.

Nepal Becomes First South Asian Nation to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

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This event comes five months after the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an order legalizing same-sex marriages.

Nepal towards recognizing same-sex marriages began in 2007 when the Supreme Court granted legal approval for such unions.

The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, addressing the nation’s commitment to equality.

However, it wasn’t until June 27, 2023, that the Supreme Court issued an order, initiated through a writ petition involving multiple petitioners, including Gurung.

This order mandated the government to register marriages involving same-sex and non-heterosexual couples, making Nepal the first South Asian country to take this progressive step.

The couple faced challenges in getting their marriage officially registered. The Kathmandu District Court, four months prior to the registration, rejected the move, citing the absence of necessary laws governing same-sex marriages.

The couple, along with LGBTQ+ rights activist Sunil Babu Pant, filed cases in both the Kathmandu District Court and the High Court, but their pleas were initially rejected.

The turning point came when the Home Ministry of Nepal made changes to the registration process, enabling all local administration offices to officially recognize same-sex marriages.

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This positive development is a moment for the LGBTQ+ community in the country, as it opened the door for the registration of the first same-sex marriage in the country.

Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey, who had married traditionally with family approval six years ago, celebrated the official registration of their marriage in Dordi, Lamjung.

Speaking after the ceremony, Maya expressed happiness and stated that they were celebrating the occasion with dancing and partying.

The local Mother’s Group, known as Aama Samuha, also joined the celebration. Sunil Babu Pant, founder of Nepal’s gay rights organization Blue Diamond Society, hailed the development as a win for sexual and gender minorities who have been advocating for equal rights and recognition of their marriages.

This event not only holds historical for Nepal but also positions the country as a trailblazer in South Asia. The recognition of same-sex marriage sets an example for other nations in the region to reconsider and advance LGBTQ+ rights.

In Asia, only Taiwan has previously legalized same-sex marriages, making the second country on the continent to take this progressive step.

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Since the end of the Maoist insurgency in 2006, the Nepali population has become more progressive. The Constitution, with its prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation,

Sunil Babu Pant a former lawmaker and founder of Blue Diamond Society, has been in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

His organization has been at the forefront of the battle for equal rights and recognition of same-sex marriages.

Pant expressed his joy at the development, addressing that this achievement would empower the LGBTQ+ community, allowing them to enjoy rights similar to any other couple, such as opening joint bank accounts and owning property together.

The recognition of same-sex marriages has been a gradual process, with various countries taking steps towards inclusivity and equal rights.

The achievement aligns with the global movement advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. The diversity of legal frameworks acceptance around the world underlines the ongoing dialogue on the importance of recognizing diverse sexual orientations.

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