‘No progress’ on legalising same sex marriage

- Chahana Sigdel, Kathmandu
‘No progress’ on legalising same sex marriage

Jun 28, 2015-In a landmark decision, the United States’ Supreme Court legalised same sex marriage nationwide, a move that was celebrated by LGBT supporters all over the world, including in Nepal. 

This has once again brought Nepal’s own path towards same sex marriage into the limelight. However, there seems to have been no progress, after a report was submitted earlier this year that suggested Nepal legalise unions of such kind.

In February, a committee of experts formed in 2010 to carry out a feasibility study had submitted a report to Chief Secretary Leela Mani Poudyal. It recommended Nepal adopt same sex marriage, family protections and strike out discriminatory provisions from the civil and criminal codes. The report, widely praised by activists and covered by the media, has been handed over to the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, said Poudyal.

But when asked about the status of the report, both Secretary at the Ministry of Children, Women and Social Welfare Dhan Bahadur Tamang and spokesperson said they were unaware of its existence. 

As many Nepalis added the rainbow filter to their profile pictures--a tool Facebook launched for supporters of the LGBT rights--sociologist Chaitanya Mishra said proponents of same sex marriage need to do more in the country and realise that only submitting a report does not mean that the work is all done. “Lobbying is missing in Nepal to ensure that the report is implemented and not forgotten. Neither the media nor activists have been actively pursuing the report and its findings,” he said.

Badri Pun, president of Inclusive Forum that works for LGBTI rights, said they are hopeful of a positive outcome. Pun, however, admitted that she was unaware about any progress being made. “We have plans to go to the ministry and inquire about the report’s status. 

It’s a little difficult because the secretary we used to talk to was transferred to another department,” Pun said. Dismissing suggestions that the report had already reached the Cabinet, she said it is highly unlikely as both the secretary and spokesperson were unaware about it reaching the ministry in the first place. It is the responsibility of the line ministry to prepare a draft law and submit it to Parliament.

Nepal’s history of LGBTI is fairly encouraging and it is considered one of the most liberal countries in the region when it comes to gay rights. History was made in 2006 when Sunil Babu Pant became the first gay parliamentarian in the first Constituent Assembly. 

A year later, the Supreme Court ordered the government to end discriminatory practices against LGBTI and Nepal became the first country in the region to decriminalise gay sex. 

In 2011, Nepal added a third gender category to its census and earlier this year, the government agreed to issue passports that would insert an “O” for other option in the gender box.

Published: 29-06-2015 07:57

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