Supreme Orders Government to Issue Third Gender Passports

Kathmandu, Nepal – The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to issue passports to the third gender by ammending the Passport Regulations.

A division bench of Justices Sushila Karki and Baidaynath Upadhyay ruled this responding to a petition filed by Dilu Buduja on July 25, 2011.

Buduja, a third gender and an original resident of Maygdi district, has obtained citizenship under the same category. But, when Buduja applied for a passport at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in June the same year, the applicant mentioned ‘T’ (referring to third gender( in the sex column of the application. The MoFA, however, rejected the application stating that it was incomplete. Bhujuda was the first proclaimed third gender to apply for the Machine Readable Passport (MRP) since it was introduced in December 2010.

The ministry maintained that the MRP software would not read the term ‘T’ for gender as no such feature has been added into it. Also, there are no legal provisions to issue passport s under any other categories than either male or female. The defendants in the petition included the MoFA and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government in May last year had decided to issue citizenship certificates to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The move follows four years after a land mark apex court verdict directing authorities to issue citizenship certificates to LGBTs. Even the Election Commission has been registering individuals under the third gender category for the purpose of voter registration.

The countries issuing passport under third gender categories include India, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia. Right activists have hailed the apex court judgment. “This is a victory in our long running struggle,” said Sunil Babu Panta, a third gender right activist and former lawmaker.

by sunil pant
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