| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Nepal registers first same-sex marriage; ‘historic’, say activists

Five months after the Supreme Court issued an interim decision paving the way for same-sex marriages in the predominately conservative nation, local authorities in a village in Nepal registered the first same-sex marriage in the Himalayan nation on Wednesday, officials and activists said.

According to an official, the marriage of 26-year-old Surendra Pandey and 36-year-old Ram Bahadur (Maya) Gurung, who was born and identifies as male, was formally recorded at the Dordi rural municipality office in the Lumjung district in west Nepal.

“We are both very happy. Like us, all others in our community are happy too,” Pandey said in a phone interview.

The couple have been in a relationship for nine years and got married according to Hindu rituals in 2016 in the capital Kathmandu.

“We have issued the marriage registration certificate to the couple in consideration of the Supreme Court order and instructions from relevant government authorities,” said Hem Raj Kafle, chief administrative officer of the Dordi rural municipality.

In June, the country’s Supreme Court issued an interim order allowing same-sex couples to register their marriages pending a final verdict.

Sunil Babu Pant, founder of the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s leading gay rights organisation, said it was a victory for sexual and gender minorities who have long demanded equal rights, including recognition of their marriages.

“It is historic,” said Pant, a former lawmaker, noting that it was the first such registration in South Asia. “It will open the door for them to jointly open bank accounts, own and transfer property like just any other couples.”

  • Reuters