62 LGBT people, legally recognized as a third gender in Nepal, are seeking political office in November elections which may determine whether the country becomes the first in Asia to allow same-sex couples to marry
62 LGBT Nepalese people will seek to win political office during 19 November national elections – with many accepted as candidates for major parties.
Of the 62 LGBT people standing for office, 21 are gay, 28 lesbian, 12 transgender and one is bisexual, and they are running in 31 of Nepal’s 75 electoral districts.
This marks the first time ever that LGBT people have been able to register as candidates as ‘third gender’ persons – the legal recognition given to LGBT people in Nepal.
Out of 26.6 million Nepalese only 12.5 million are registered to vote, and the Blue Diamond Society LGBT rights group estimates there are around half a million Nepalese who would fall into the category of third gender.
Sunil Babu Pant, who became Nepal’s first openly gay lawmaker in 2008 will be standing this time as a candidate for the Opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist after a large block of LGBT people joined the party.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist is the third largest in the Parliament after the Nepali Congress Party and the ruling Maoist Unified Communist Party of Nepal.
Election officials say they have made a concerted effort to ensure third gender Nepalese participate in the election, launching a campaign to sign up LGBTs under the third gender category to vote.
‘We implement gender balance and inclusiveness in our policy, and will take the necessary initiatives to create an environment for the third gender to participate in elections,’ Election Commission spokesman Bir Bahadur Rai told UPI Next.
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly election was dissolved after it failed to agree on a new constitution – which was supposed to include same-sex marriage in line with a 2008 Supreme Court ruling – but the date of the election was postponed by the government for almost a year from 22 November 2012.
Whoever is elected following the election will determine whether Nepal becomes the first Asian nation to allow same-sex couples to marry when the new Constituent Assembly sits down to negotiate a new constitution.