Nepal Registers First Same-Sex Marriage

In a groundbreaking move, a couple in Nepal becomes the first to have their marriage legally recognized.

In a landmark event in Nepal, a couple made history on Wednesday by becoming the first to officially register a same-sex marriage, a significant step for LGBTQ+ rights in the region.

Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey’s marriage registration in the Dorje village council office, set against the backdrop of the mountains west of Kathmandu, was the first time a municipality allowed a couple of the same legal sex to be married. Gurung is a transgender woman but is legally recognized as male in the country. She and Pandey held a Hindu wedding ceremony in 2017, according to Human Rights Watch.

Sunil Babu Pant, a former parliamentarian and a key figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, was present at the registration. Pant, who is out, expressed the significance of this moment to the Associated Press.

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

This development follows Nepal’s Supreme Court’s interim order earlier in the year, which, for the first time, allowed the registration of same-sex marriages. Despite initial refusals from officials and legal hurdles at both the Kathmandu District Court and High Court, the couple persisted in their quest.

The Home Ministry’s recent procedural changes were pivotal in this breakthrough. “It was quite unexpected, and it was a positive breeze for us,” Pant shared with the AP over a phone call, highlighting the sudden but welcome shift in the government’s stance.

Nepal’s gradual progression towards LGBTQ+ inclusivity has been notable, especially since a 2007 court ruling urged the government to enact changes to support LGBTQ+ people. The country recognizes the existence of transgender people and allows the option of a third gender on official documents for those who do not identify as male or female. The country’s 2015 constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In that same year, a government committee recommended that Nepal grant marriage equality.

A court ordered the government to recognize a same-sex marriage conducted in Germany back in March, HRW notes.

Alex Cooper contributed to this report.

by Christopher Wiggins
Source – The Advocate