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16 Feb 2015

Nepal’s human rights committee recommends gay marriage be legalized


It has submitted to the government a list of recommendations that also includes adoption of children by gay couples and which is to be discussed in the cabinet ahead of a bill on the issue.

A national committee tasked with implementing a Supreme Court order to improve gay rights in Nepal is calling for the country to ensure that marriage between same-sex couples is legalized.

"Our report recommends legalization of same-sex marriage and amendments of related marriage laws such as property rights, divorce and adoption," Basu Dev Bajgai a member of the committee of legal and human rights experts told AFP. 

He said that his committee had submitted to the government a list of recommendations that also includes adoption of children by gay couples 

The committee's recommendations are to be discussed in the cabinet ahead of a government bill on the issue, the AFP reported.

"It has been a long wait (and) we are very encouraged by the recommendations. We will now see if the government will materialize it into law," Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first NGO to advocate for and work for the sexual health of gays and lesbians, told AFP 

Nepal is a fledgling democracy and its constitution is still a work in progress that many hope will be completed this year. The Supreme Court eight years ago had ordered the government to ensure that rights of gays and lesbians be enshrined within the law.

This is largely because Nepalese law had so far offered no protection to the gay and lesbian community that often was a victim of social discrimination and harassment by security forces.

Sexual and gender minorities have long been demanding at least one member from them to be included in the Constituent Assembly to ensure that their rights are raised.

Nepal has some of South Asia’s most progressive laws to protect its gay and lesbian community.

Following the fall of the monarchy in 2007, Nepal, which was ruled by a Hindu religious monarchy and hereditary prime ministers with absolute powers, legalized same-sex relations and is in the process of drafting several new laws to include same-sex marriage and protect the gay and lesbian community from discrimination.

However, Hindu-majority Nepal remains largely a conservative country where people disapprove of gay people and highly stress straight relationships.

In 2006 the government acknowledged “men having sex with men” as a vulnerable group by including them in government data and affirmative action. 

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of regarding same-sex marriage but the state has not yet done the needful to even fully protect the gay and lesbian community from discrimination. Many members think that might happen with the promulgation of a new constitution.

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