LGBTQ+ community rejoices as Nepal’s Supreme Court allows registration of same-sex marriages

Sapan News LGBTQ+ rights activists and couples in Nepal are overjoyed after the Supreme Court issued an interim order allowing the registration of same-sex marriages for the first time in the country’s history. Nepal is also the first country in Southasia to allow same-sex marriages.

The decision, issued on June 29, is a significant milestone for activists and those who have been campaigning for same-sex marriage and for ending provisions that limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

“At a personal level, for those who are living together, it is a huge victory. Practically, they can register their marriage and their rights can be immediately exercised,” Nepal’s first openly gay former parliamentarian and leading LGBTQ+ rights activist, Sunil Babu Pant, told the Associated Press.

“This is very important because it allows the couple to go and register their marriage and start living as a couple legally,” Pant said.

Majority-Hindu Nepal has undergone major changes since 2007 when a court decision based on a petition filed by Pant asked the government to make changes in favour 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 new constitution also emphasises that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

While it is not yet clear when the court will deliver its final verdict on the matter, it has ordered the government to establish a separate register of marriages for same-sex couples for now.

Meanwhile, Pant, who is a driving force behind Nepal’s changing stance on LGBTQ+ rights, also hopes that this development will position Nepal as a trending destination for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Same-sex weddings would be very lucrative for Nepal,” says Pant. “Nepal has potential if it promotes itself as a gay wedding and honeymoon destination for LGBTQ couples. There’s an untapped market.”

Nepal ranks 44th among 203 countries and territories in a 2023 LGBTQ+ Travel Safety Index. It was the leader in Asia, followed by Taiwan at number 48, India at 51 and Thailand at 62.

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