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Nepal under new pressure to pass same-sex marriage

Nepal under new pressure to pass same-sex marriage

  • Could Nepal become the second country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage?
Pride in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, in 2019.

Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission has put fresh pressure on the government to legalize same-sex marriage.

They said it was ‘unfortunate’ that Nepal doesn’t provide equal marriage. It is now five years after an expert committee recommended it should.

Moreover, it is almost 13 years after Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal rights for all sexual and gender identity minorities.

The Himalayan country, which has a population of over 28million, would become only the second country in Asia to offer same-sex marriage if it went ahead.

Taiwan became the first last year. However even its law stops short of marriage equality as it doesn’t include the right for same sex couples to adopt.

‘Unfortunate’ Nepal hasn’t acted

The National Human Rights Commission report, out this week, praised Nepal for allowing people who don’t identify as male or female to have ‘O’ or ‘other’ passports. These are ‘gender X’ passports in other countries.

But it says the government should have acted on 2015 recommendations – including around marriage equality.

It says: ‘While it is positive that the government has started providing citizenship and passports under the “O”, or “other”, gender category, it is unfortunate that no steps have been taken to implement the report of the expert team formed as per the Supreme Court verdict.’

Nepal only legalized homosexuality in 2007, with the end of its monarchy.

Since then, it’s become one of Asia’s more advanced countries for LGBT+ rights. Its laws include anti-discrimination protections to protect workers and consumers.

But same-sex marriage legislation has stalled. A bill in 2010 failed to win through. Indeed, in 2014 the country even threatened to recriminalize homosexuality.

However in late 2018, the government promised to press ahead with reform. Despite this, it hasn’t yet pushed forward with equal marriage legislation.

Meanwhile LGBT+ campaigners say Nepal’s supportive laws and constitution don’t necessarily protect them. They continue to face harassment, discrimination and violence.

One of the next big battles for LGBT+ campaigners is likely to be around next year’s census – held every 10 years.

They say official figures underestimate Nepal’s LGBT+ population. The human rights watchdog wants the government to ensure a more accurate count of ‘other’ gender people next time.