The LGBT community in Nepal has welcomed a decision by the government to recognize third gender people as 'other' on citizenship identification cards.
Third gender refers to people who consider themselves neither male nor female and includes people who present or perform as a gender that is different from the one that was assigned to them at birth.
It can also include people who do not feel that the male or female gender roles dictated by their culture match their true social, sexual, or gender identity.
The gender will now be listed as 'other' on ID cards, where previously the option of male and female had only been available. This offers the option for third gender individuals to select the 'others' category if they so wish.
In 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal passed a verdict that the government should scrap all laws that discriminated against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This ruling is finally being implemented.
'The LGBT community will, from now onwards, be categorized under “others” as per their wish. Only the technical process remains to be completed in this connection,’ stated Shankar Koirala, from the Home Ministry.
He added: ‘We have already sent a letter to the Law Ministry to add the “others” head in all necessary forms, documents and indexes.'
LGBT community leader and founder of the Blue Diamond Society, Sunil Babu Pant, has called the development a great victory for the LGBT community in Nepal.
‘It was a constant battle for us. And now we are extremely happy,' he said.
'Our community feels we are finally being granted an identity by the state and my friends have told me they feel proud about it.’
Third gender people have complained of discrimination, including problems in gaining admission to colleges, applying for jobs, opening bank accounts and applying for travel permits, because their appearance and the gender indicated in their legal documents did not match their sexual orientation.
'Getting an identification will solve 50% of our problems,' Pant said.
'It will also help find the correct figures on the number of third gender in Nepal, so the government can address the problems facing this community.'