“A cisgender man and a transgender woman, legally considered a man, became the first couple in South Asia to have their ‘same-sex’ marriage legally recognized in Nepal.”
Back in November, Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey made history by becoming the first same-sex legally recognized married couple in Nepal. This legal recognition of same-sex marriage is the first step of this kind taken in South Asia, making history for LGBTQ rights.
As per Pandey, “We have achieved legal recognition, a monumental victory not just for us but for the entire LGBTQ community.” Meanwhile, Gurung said, “We got justice. Now we are completely together.”
According to DW sources, “The couple’s journey was far from easy and was marred by social judgments and family pressure on top of the protracted legal and procedural hurdles.”
Back in 2007, “Nepal’s Supreme Court had ordered the goverment to change existing legal provisions to allow same-sex marriages. But successive governments failed to pass required legislation that would mandate lower courts to legally recognize same-sex mariages.”
In 2017, “Pandey and Gurung were marriaged in a Hindu wedding ceremony. June of 2023, the couple filed a petition in Kathmandu District Court seeking legal recognition of their marriage after the Supreme Court instructed minicipal authorities to provide an ‘interim registry’ for same-sex marriages until existing marriage legislation could be amended.”
Then moving forward, “the couple had expected the registration process to go smoothly. However, the Kathmandu District Court and another high court refused to register the marriage, claiming that federal law only allowed the registration of heterosexual couples. This is despite the Supreme Court ruling.”
While Pandey is a cisgender male, Gurung, on the other hand, is a transgender woman, although in Nepal, she is legally a male.
“The lower courts based their rulings on Nepal’s civil code, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court ruling had attempted to get around this by creating the interim resgitry until the law was changed, but claimed national law would have to be changed, but the claimed national law would have to be changed before they recognized Pandey and Gurung’s marriage.”
However, as of last week, Nepal’s Home Ministry said, “In the last week of November all locally administered offices are allowed to register same-sex marriages.” So as of November 29, Gurung and Pandey “received their marriage certificate from the Dordi rural municipality in Western Nepal’s Lamjung district where Gurung is from.”