February 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Committee recommends Nepal legalize same-sex marriage

Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Nepalese Parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant has welcomed a committee’s recommendation that his country’s government extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Knight)

Nepal could become the first Asian country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples if its government accepts the recommendations of a committee that studied the issue.

A translated copy of the recommendations the Washington Blade obtained from gay Nepalese Parliamentarian Sunil Babu Pant, who founded the Blue Diamond Society, the country’s only LGBT advocacy group, notes the “positive international trends” towards homosexuality and marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“It is recommended to have equal marriage legal provision for same-sex couples with equal family protection to the couple and children,” reads the 150-page report, according to Pant.

Another recommendation urges Nepalese lawmakers to “make necessary changes” to address discriminatory criminal and civil laws.

“Make the family law inclusive to protect the family members who are sexual and gender minorities as the heterosexual family members are protected,” it reads, according to Pant.

Former Health and Population Secretary Laxmi Raj Pathak chaired the committee that formed in 2010.

Media reports indicate the committee formally submitted its recommendations to Nepalese Chief Secretary Lila Mani Poudyal in Kathmandu, the country’s capital, on Monday.

“This is such fantastic news,” said Pant in a statement. “The report is very good, based upon justice and equality without any prejudice.”

Recommendation ‘step forward towards full equality’ in Nepal

The Nepal Supreme Court in December 2007 ruled the country’s new government must provide legal protections to LGBT Nepalese citizens and amend laws that discriminated against them. The same tribunal less than a year later ordered officials to form a committee to study the possibility of same-sex marriage in the Asian country.

Pant in 2008 became the first openly gay person elected to the Nepalese Parliament.

The Nepal Central Bureau of Statistics in its 2011 census officially recognized those who identify as “third gender.”

“The possibility of Nepal becoming the first country to recognize same-sex marriage in Asia is an excitement,” said Pant. “This is another step forward towards full equality for sexual and gender minorities in Nepal.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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