First Same-Sex Couple Legally Weds in Nepal Following Landmark Ruling

Nepal’s first same-sex marriage has been registered this week, with activists calling it an “historic” achievement for the Himalayan nation.

First Same-Sex Marriage in Nepal

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A gay couple in Nepal has officially registered their marriage, making them the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the country. 

Five Months After Legalization

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The marriage between Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung took place on Wednesday, five months after the Nepal Supreme Court issued an interim order that allowed for the registration of same-sex marriages. 

Nepali Activists Celebrate

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Sunil Babu Pant, a gay Nepali LGBTQ civil rights activist and former parliamentarian described the decision as “historic.” He also founded Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s most prominent gay rights organization.

23 Years of Struggle

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“After 23 years of struggle we got this historic achievement, and finally Maya and Surendra got their marriage registered at the local administration office,” he said.

Finally Registered

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The marriage was registered in the Dordi rural municipality office in the Lujung region of West Nepal, west of Kathmandu. Pant was also in attendance for the ceremony. 

Official Confirmation

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The chief administrative officer of the Dordi rural municipality, Hem Raj Kafle, publicly confirmed the marriage. “We have issued the marriage registration certificate to the couple in consideration of the Supreme Court order and instructions from relevant government authorities,” he said.

Love at First Sight

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Gurung, who was born male but identifies as female, and Pandey, who is male, first met in 2015. They described their meeting as love at first sight and began living like a married couple, as well as adopting a dog named Suru.

Traditional, Not Legal

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They initially married two years later in a traditional Hindu ceremony officiated by a local priest in Kathmandu. At that point, a legal marriage was not possible for them. 

An Initial Struggle

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And it was not an easy process, even after the interim order was passed through. Officials refused to register their marriage, and it wasn’t until this week that the Nepali Home Ministry allowed local administration offices to register same-sex marriages.

Happy Surprise

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“It was quite unexpected and it was a positive breeze for us,” Pant told the Associate Press when discussing the sudden change. 

Opening New Doors

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“It is historic,” he reaffirmed, mentioning that their union was also the first legal same-sex marriage in all of South Asia. “It will open the door for them to jointly open bank accounts, own and transfer property like just any other couples.”

The Happy Couple

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“We are both very happy. Like us, all others in our community are happy too.”  Pandey said in a phone interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Incremental but Important Changes

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Changes to LGBTQ legislation in Nepal have been incremental, but are very progressive compared to other neighboring countries. They first began in 2007, when a court decision compelled the government to make more changes in favor of LGBTQ people.

Gender Diversity and Discrimination Bans

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In 2015 the Nepali Constitution included a law against any form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Today, citizens who don’t identify as either male or female can formally adopt a “third gender” for all of their legal documents. 

The 2nd in Asia

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So far Nepal is only the second country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The first was Taiwan, and next month Thailand will consider a marriage equality law proposal in parliament.

The post Historic Milestone in Nepal as First Same-Sex Couple Legally Weds Following Supreme Court’s Landmark Ruling first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Muskoka Stock Photos. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.