The Supreme Court in Nepal has issued an interim order enabling the registration of same-sex marriages, a move which has been described as a “significant step towards marriage equality” in the country.
The interim order was issued by the Supreme Court on Wednesday (28 June), asking the government to establish a separate register of marriages for same-sex couples in the country, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The US embassy in Nepal wrote on Twitter: “This decision is a significant step towards marriage equality and recognition in Nepal that marriage is a fundamental right.
“With the recognition of full marriage equality, Nepal will continue to be a leader in protecting all citizens against discrimination.”
While same-sex marriage is still not yet fully legal in Nepal, activists have said that the move is “very significant” for same-sex couples and “third gender” people. “Third gender” people are officially recognised in Nepal as of 2007, and can list their gender on ID including passports. The gender has been included in Nepal’s census since 2021.
“This is a very significant development, as same-sex as well as third genders and their partners can register their marriages. They will be entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples,” LGBTQ+ rights activist and former parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant said.
“Parliament may take a while to pass the marriage equality law, but this order gives a practical solution to members of the sexual and gender minority communities who wish to register their marriage legally.”
Couple Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung told AP that they married in a Hindu ceremony six years ago. However, their marriage is not legally binding. They told the outlet that they were “relieved” to finally be able to register their marriage.
Gurung said: “I am overwhelmed with joy because of this decision and it is a day of commemoration for our community.
“This court ruling has established that we are equal citizens of this country.”
If Nepal fully legalises same-sex marriage, it will become the second country in Asia to do so, after Taiwan made the historic step in 2019.