Nepal’s First Same-Sex Marriage: A Landmark for LGBT Rights

In a major milestone for LGBT rights in Nepal, the country has registered its first same-sex marriage. After a long legal battle, Maya Gurung, a transgender woman, and Surendra Pandey, a cisgender man, had their union officially recognized in the western Lumjung district. This development comes five months after the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim order permitting same-sex couples to register their marriages.

Nepal now joins Taiwan as the only Asian countries to have legalized same-sex marriage, marking a significant step forward for equal rights in the region. Gurung and Pandey have been in a committed relationship for nearly a decade and had a religious wedding ceremony in 2017. However, their marriage lacked legal recognition until now.

The couple faced numerous challenges in their quest for legal recognition, including a district court in Kathmandu refusing to register their marriage despite the Supreme Court’s order. The district court argued that the order only applied to the government and not to lower courts. However, the Dordi rural municipality’s chief administrative officer, Hem Raj Kafle, confirmed that the marriage registration certificate was ultimately issued in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directive and the instructions of relevant government authorities.

This landmark event has been hailed as a historic victory for sexual and gender minorities in Nepal. Leading LGBT rights activist, Sunil Babu Pant, described it as a significant step toward recognizing the rights of sexual and gender minorities in the country. The recognition of Gurung and Pandey’s marriage sets a precedent for future same-sex unions and paves the way for greater acceptance and inclusivity.

Beyond the symbolic significance, the legalization of same-sex marriage in Nepal also has practical implications for the couple. Gurung and Pandey stated their desire to open a joint bank account and establish shared ownership of their property. Additionally, they expressed their ultimate dream of adopting a child once their financial situation stabilizes.

This news highlights the progress made in Nepal’s journey towards equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community. However, it is important to remain cautious and recognize that challenges and prejudice still persist. While the legalization of same-sex marriage represents a significant achievement, further efforts are needed to address discrimination, promote acceptance, and ensure the protection of LGBTQ+ individuals in all aspects of life.

The impact of Nepal’s first same-sex marriage reverberates not only within the country but also across Asia. It serves as an inspiration for other countries where the road to LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality is still fraught with challenges. By breaking down barriers and embracing diversity, Nepal sets an influential example that advocates for equality can strive to replicate in their own societies.

As we celebrate this momentous occasion, it is crucial to remember that the fight for equal rights is ongoing. Supporting organizations and initiatives that advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusivity remains vital. By standing together, championing equality, and continuing to push for progress, we can create a world where love and acceptance transcend all boundaries.