Gay couple in Nepal becomes the 1st to officially register same-sex marriage in the country

Earlier this year, Nepal's supreme court issued an interim order enabling the registration of same-sex marriages for the first time.

November 29, 2023 07:09 pm | Updated 07:48 pm IST - KATHMANDU, Nepal

Earlier this year, Nepal’s supreme court issued an interim order enabling the registration of same-sex marriages for the first time. File image for representation.

Earlier this year, Nepal’s supreme court issued an interim order enabling the registration of same-sex marriages for the first time. File image for representation. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

A gay couple in Nepal on Wednesday became the first in the nation to receive official same-sex marriage status. The Himalayan nation is one of the first in Asia to allow it.

“After 23 years of struggle we got this historic achievement, and finally Maya and Surendra got their marriage registered at the local administration office,” said Sunil Babu Pant, an openly gay former parliamentarian and leading LGBTQ+ rights activist.

Mr. Pant was present with Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung when they registered their marriage at the Dorje village council office, located in the mountains west of the capital, Kathmandu.

Earlier this year, Nepal's supreme court issued an interim order enabling the registration of same-sex marriages for the first time.

Officials had initially refused to register the marriage. The couple and Mr. Pant filed cases with the Kathmandu District Court and High Court, but their pleas were rejected.

According to Mr. Pant, the Home Ministry this week made changes in the process enabling all local administration offices to register same-sex marriages.

“It was quite unexpected and it was a positive breeze for us,” Mr. Pant said by phone from the village where the couple were expected to celebrate later Wednesday.

The couple married six years ago at a temple following Hindu tradition, with a priest conducting the rituals among friends and family. But they had no certificate showing their marriage was legal.

Nepal has undergone a transformation since a court decision in 2007 asked the government to make changes in favor of LGBTQ+ people. People who do not identify as female or male are now able to choose “third gender” on their passports and other government documents. The constitution adopted in 2015 also explicitly states there can be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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