KATHMANDU – Same-sex couples in Nepal said on Friday (June 30) they were preparing to register their marriages after the Supreme Court issued a temporary order clearing the way for gay marriage for the first time in the largely conservative country.
The Supreme Court has been considering a petition on the issue filed by gay right activists and on Wednesday it issued an interim order allowing for same-sex couples to register their marriages pending a final verdict.
“This is a very big and historic decision,” said Pinky Gurung, chairperson of the Blue Diamond Society gay rights organisation.
Gurung said about 200 same-sex couples were expected “to come out openly and register their marriages”.
Majority-Hindu Nepal has become increasingly progressive since a decade-long Maoist rebellion ended in 2006. Two years later, political parties voted to abolish the 239-year-old Hindu monarchy, a key demand of the Maoists.
In Asia, Taiwan is the only place that recognises gay marriage, though pressure is building for reform in Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
In 2007, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government to end discrimination against LGBT people and put in place measures to guarantee equal rights.
Since then, some same-sex couples have held unofficial weddings and gay pride parades have been held in the capital, Kathmandu.
But activists say there is still no clear legislation and people can face abuse from their families and communities and discrimination in education, government offices and hospitals.
Maya Gurung, another member of the LGBT community, said that being able to officially register a marriage would help overcome a range of difficulties.
“We will now approach the authorities to formally register our marriage,” Gurung said, referring to her partner of nearly a decade, Surendra Pandey.
“It may take some time for this, though.”