“In a groundbreaking stride towards inclusivity and equality, Nepal has etched its name in history by officially recognizing its inaugural same-sex marriage. The union of Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey in Lumjung district’s western region stands as a testament to the nation’s progressive journey in championing LGBTQ+ rights.”
Nepal has marked a historic stride in LGBTQ+ rights by formally recognizing its inaugural same-sex marriage, a momentous victory celebrated for its significance in Lumjung district’s western region. Maya Gurung, 35, and Surendra Pandey, 27, emerged as pioneers when authorities in the district officially acknowledged their union, a development that followed a Supreme Court interim order allowing same-sex couples to register their marriages. This monumental step places Nepal alongside Taiwan as the only Asian regions to have legalized same-sex marriage.
Maya Gurung, speaking to the press, expressed immense gratitude, recognizing the registration as a profound day not just for their relationship but for all sexual minorities. She acknowledged the tribulations in the fight for rights while envisioning a more accessible path for future generations and the myriad of possibilities that this registration unlocks.
The couple, together for almost a decade and married in a temple ceremony in 2017, pursued legal recognition for their union with aspirations of establishing joint assets, including shared land ownership and a joint bank account. However, their paramount desire remains focused on adopting a child, contingent upon achieving a more stable financial footing.
Despite encountering legal obstacles, including a district court’s initial reluctance to register their marriage in Kathmandu due to gender documentation inconsistencies, the couple persevered. The district court argued that lower courts were not mandated to comply with the Supreme Court’s directive, citing it was directed solely at the government.
Hem Raj Kafle, chief administrative officer of the Dordi rural municipality, clarified their decision, citing adherence to the Supreme Court order and relevant governmental instructions as the basis for granting the marriage registration certificate to the couple.
Prominent LGBTQ+ rights activist Sunil Babu Pant lauded this moment as “historic” and a triumph for sexual and gender minorities while emphasizing the continued necessity for further advancements in securing additional rights.
The Dordi municipality’s adherence to Nepal’s Supreme Court interim order, validating Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey’s marriage on November 29, signifies a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ rights in Nepal. This event exemplifies a progressive stance and sets a precedent for other regions to acknowledge and respect same-sex relationships.
Nepal’s journey towards achieving marriage equality encountered significant legal hurdles, with courts initially rejecting the couple’s attempts, citing gender conformity and the government’s responsibility to modify laws. Nepal’s civil code currently confines recognition to marriages between a man and a woman, prompting the Supreme Court to issue directives for establishing an interim registry for nontraditional marriages until legislative amendments materialize.
Nepal’s progressive history in advancing LGBTQ+ rights has seen pivotal court orders demanding legal recognition of same-sex marriage and, in March, mandating the government to acknowledge a same-sex couple’s marriage conducted in Germany. The recent action by Dordi officials is a commendable step in acknowledging and respecting the rights of Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey, serving as a potential model for nationwide recognition of same-sex relationships.
This monumental step signifies Nepal’s dedication to embracing equality and inclusivity, paving the way for a future where love and relationships transcend traditional norms.