Celebrating Equality

Nepal's Landmark Same-Sex Ruling by Supreme Court
Born with Pride Art Competition 2022 Winning Entry by Nila Nandi

Born with Pride Art Competition 2022 Winning Entry

© Nila Nandi

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an interim order on June 28, 2023, instructing the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) and other relevant ministries to establish a transitional mechanism that ensures the registration of marriages for non-heterosexual couples. This order reaffirms the right to marry that was initially granted to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and more identities (LGBTQIA+) community by the country's apex court in 2007. This significant decision reflects Nepal's commitment to inclusivity, respect, and equal treatment for individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

Among all the South Asian nations, Nepal is known for its progressive stance on LGBTQIA+ rights and this was reiterated when the country’s top court handed down the landmark ruling on same-sex marriage last week. The Supreme Court of Nepal declared that the constitutional rights to equality, freedom, and dignity apply equally to all citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation. This momentous decision aims to effectively repeal any legal barriers that previously denied LGBTQIA+ individuals the right to marry and enjoy the same legal and societal recognition as their heterosexual counterparts.

The interim order was passed by a single bench of Justice Til Prasad Shrestha. The Blue Diamond Society, established in 2001 to advocate for change in the existing laws against homosexuality and to advocate for the rights of Nepal's marginalized gay, transgender and other sexual minority communities, had filed a public interest litigation seeking recognition of marriages of non-heterosexual couples.

The Supreme Court's ruling represents a monumental step forward for LGBTQIA+ rights in Nepal. It acknowledges the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, regardless of their SOGIESC. By granting same-sex couples the right to marry in the interim order, Nepal has set an inspiring precedent for other nations, reinforcing the notion that love and commitment transcend gender boundaries.

The legal recognition of same-sex marriage carries far-reaching implications for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Nepal. Beyond the symbolic triumph, this ruling ensures same-sex couples gain access to the legal benefits and protections that accompany marriage, such as inheritance rights, joint property ownership, and custody rights. Additionally, this landmark decision can contribute to the de-stigmatization of same-sex relationships and reinforce Nepal's commitment to foster an inclusive society.

Nepal has long been regarded as a trailblazer in the South Asian region for LGBTQIA+ rights. In 2007, the country made headlines by becoming the first in South Asia to decriminalize homosexuality. Subsequently, the constitution of Nepal, adopted in 2015, guaranteed fundamental rights to all citizens without discrimination based on sexual orientation. This latest ruling by the Supreme Court firmly establishes Nepal as a beacon of progress, promoting equality, and championing LGBTQIA+ rights.

The Supreme Court's ruling has garnered attention and admiration beyond Nepal's borders. It serves as an inspiration to other nations grappling with the question of marriage equality and LGBTQIA+ rights. Nepal's success demonstrates that societal progress is attainable through the diligent efforts of lawmakers, activists, and the judiciary. The ruling reinforces the global movement towards recognizing the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals, paving the way for further advancements in other jurisdictions.

The ruling made by the Supreme Court of Nepal on same-sex marriage and LGBTQIA+ rights marks a historic milestone in the ongoing struggle for equality and recognition. By embracing diversity and granting same-sex couples the right to marry, Nepal demonstrates its commitment to fostering an inclusive society that upholds the dignity and rights of all its citizens. This groundbreaking decision is not only a victory for LGBTQIA+ individuals in Nepal but also a powerful symbol of hope and progress for the global LGBTQIA+ community. As Nepal continues to lead the charge in advancing LGBTQIA+ rights, it inspires the world to strive for equality and acceptance for all.