Nepal Shatters Norms: First Same-Sex Marriage Officially Recognized After Supreme Court Ruling

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Nepal has officially registered its first same-sex marriage, marking a significant step towards inclusivity and equal rights in the South Asian nation. Five months after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage, the union of trans-woman Maya Gurung and gay man Surendra Pandey has set a precedent for the recognition of diverse relationships in the region.

Nepal has a history of being at the forefront of LGBTQ+ rights, with its Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage as far back as 2007. The Constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, it took until June 27, 2023, for the Supreme Court to issue an interim order specifically legalizing same-sex marriage, following a writ petition filed by several individuals, including Maya Gurung.

Despite the historic interim order, the Kathmandu District Court rejected the marriage application of Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung four months ago, citing a lack of necessary laws. This rejection underscored the need for comprehensive legal frameworks to support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

The formal registration of the first same-sex marriage occurred at the Dordi Rural Municipality in the Lamjung district of Western Nepal. The couple, Surendra Pandey (27) and Maya Gurung (35), married in the traditional manner with the approval of their families. They have been living together as husband and wife for the past six years, underscoring the importance of legal recognition for their relationship.

Sanjib Gurung, also known as Pinky and the president of Blue Diamond Society—an organization advocating for the rights of sexual minorities in Nepal—shared his enthusiasm about this milestone. Pinky emphasized the significance of this achievement not only for Nepal but for the entire South Asian region, welcoming the decision as a great pleasure.

Pinky expressed optimism about the positive impact of this historic registration on the broader LGBTQ+ community, particularly for third-gender couples living without legal recognition. He highlighted that the registration of Surendra and Maya’s marriage opens the door for others in the community to pursue legal recognition of their relationships.

“This is the first case not only in Nepal but also in the whole of South Asia, and we welcome the decision,” Pinky stated. “There are many third-gender couples living without their identities and rights, and this is going to help them a lot.”

While Surendra and Maya’s marriage has been temporarily registered, there is anticipation for the formulation of necessary laws that will grant it permanent recognition. This momentous occasion serves as a catalyst for further legal developments and societal acceptance, fostering an environment where love and commitment transcend gender norms.

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