Members and supporters of Nepal’s LGBTQ+ communities are celebrating after the country’s Supreme Court temporarily permitted the registration of same-sex marriages.
About the order: The court on Thursday ordered the prime minister, the Council of Ministers and other relevant ministries to establish a “transitional mechanism” to ensure the registration of LGBTQ+ marriages. This will come in the form of a “separate register of marriages” for those couples. However, the order is temporary pending a final ruling. It remains unclear when the court will make that decision.
How Nepal treats LGBTQ+ communities: Nepal has already some of the most progressive laws on LGBTQ+ rights in Asia, having outlawed discrimination against the community since 2007.
In 2013, the country introduced a third gender category for citizenship documents, followed by passports two years later. This year, the Supreme Court also ordered the government to recognize the non-heterosexual marriage of a Nepali with a foreigner and issue a spousal visa. Unfortunately, discrimination against the community allegedly persists in areas such as jobs, health and education.
Why it matters: The interim ruling paves the way for non-traditional marriages in a Hindu-majority country that remains largely conservative.
Sunil Babu Pant, the country’s first openly gay former parliamentarian, hailed the decision as a “huge victory,” according to AP News.
One couple, Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung, who wed at a Hindu temple six years ago, are among those finally registering their marriage. “This court ruling has established that we are equal citizens of this country,” Gurung told AP.
What’s next: It remains to be seen whether Nepal becomes the second Asian state to legalize same-sex marriage. In the meantime, the country — which houses eight of the world’s 10 highest mountains — aims to become the next big travel destination for LGBTQ+ tourists.
In April, Nepal launched its first trekking guide training program for LGBTQ+ individuals. So far, anecdotal evidence reportedly suggests that many members of the community visit the country, making it “important to train people who are comfortable with them and understand them better,” coordinator Himal Pandit told CNN.