Kathmandu, June 28 (EFE).- Nepal’s top court on Wednesday issued an interim order to the government to ensure the marriage registration of same-sex couples and other non-traditional heterosexual couples in the country.
This landmark decision makes Nepal the first country in South Asia to allow the marriage registration of same-sex couples.
The order was issued by a single judge bench of Justice Til Prasad Shrestha, who asked for a temporary arrangement of marriage registration of same-sex couples and other non-traditional heterosexual couples until the existing law is amended.
So far, every document in this regard had a provision for “husband” and “wife,” and did not recognize two husbands or two wives.
On Jun.7, Blue Diamond Society – a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, and asexual rights organization – president Pinky Gurung and eight other applicants representing the community filed a public interest litigation at the Supreme Court seeking equal recognition and rights for same-sex couples.
“Though it is a temporary mechanism, we are happy with the court’s ruling,” Gurung told EFE.
“As the Parliament may take years to pass the marriage equality law, this order paves the way for members of sexual and gender minority communities who wish to register their marriage legally,” Gurung said.
The court has directed the government to establish a separate register of marriages for such couples from sexual and gender minority communities until the law is amended.
In the 2017 Civil Code of Nepal, Article 67 and Article 7 establishes marriage as a “permanent, inviolable, holy, socio-legal bond” established to “start conjugal and family life between a man and a woman” only.
However, Nepal has made some strides when it comes to rights of the LGBTQ community.
In 2007, following a Supreme Court ruling, Nepal’s constitution recognised LGBT rights as fundamental human rights.
The court also issued an order to amend or scrap all discriminatory laws and to legalize same-sex marriage.
In 2015, a committee formed to study same-sex marriage submitted an 85-page report to the Prime Minister’s Office recommending the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which however never translated into law.
The LGBTQ community are still denied equal rights to marriage, property rights, and education.
“Wednesday’s order is a very significant development as same-sex as well as third genders and their partners can register their marriages. They will be entitled to rights equal to a heterosexual married couple,” said Gurung.
According to Gurung, there are around 300 gay and lesbian couples across Nepal who have openly admitted to marriage.
“There are still hundreds of such couples who don’t want to come out openly in society due to the lack of law for marriage,” said Gurung.
“Wednesday’s landmark decision will encourage more couples to accept the relationship openly and lawfully.” EFE