LGBT rights in Nepal

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LGBT rights in Nepal Nepal
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2007
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage ordered by Supreme Court; yet to take effect.

Nepal is the most open country in South Asia for LGBT rights and has recognized LGBT rights in higher standards. The Nepalese government, following the monarchy that ended in 2007, legalised homosexuality in 2007 along with the introduction of several new law sets. Based on the ruling of the Supreme Court of Nepal in late 2008, the government is looking into legalising same-sex marriage. According to several sources, the new Nepalese constitution, which is currently being drafted, will include same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities.[1][2]

Criminal law[edit]

Before the time of the Democratic Republic, private, homosexual relations between consenting adults was a crime, with a maximum punishment of two years in prison. Cross-dressing was also illegal under various laws against public immorality.

2007 Court decision[edit]

On 21 December 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that the new democratic government must create laws to protect LGBT rights and change existing laws that are tantamount to discrimination.[3][4]

Despite their participation in the demonstrations that brought down the monarchy, gay-rights groups found themselves ignored by the political establishment, and turned to the judiciary as a more effective way to secure their rights.[5] The media and public have also become more sympathetic to LGBT rights since an incident in which a police officer slit the throat of a transgender girl.[5]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

On 18 November 2008 the Supreme Court directed the government to enact laws enabling equal rights to LGBT citizens. While not explicitly legalising same-sex marriage, the ruling instructed the government to form a committee to look into same-sex marriage.[6] According to Indian media in 2009, a bill for this was being drafted and was supposed to be introduced by 2010.[7] In the drafting of the new Nepalese constitution, same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities was supposed to be established.[1][2] However, negotiations on the new Constitution failed and the Prime Minister dissolved the Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2012 in preparations for new elections.[8][9] As a result, the future of same-sex marriage is uncertain.

In 2012 Nepal's Supreme Court recognized a live-in relationship between two lesbians despite the efforts of the family of one of the women to separate them.[10] The Court allowed Rajani Shahi to live with her partner Prem Kumari Nepali as she wished, rather than with her husband.[11]

Third gender rights[edit]

In the 2011 Nepal census, conducted in May 2011, the Central Bureau of Statistics officially recognized a third gender in addition to male and female.[12] It also issued citizenship with third gender options to third genders. The Nepalese government, following the monarchy that ended in 2007, legalized cross dressing and a third gender option in 2007 along with the introduction of several new law sets.Cross-dressing was also illegal under various laws against public immorality but now is freely allowed. In the 2011 Nepal census, conducted in May 2011, the Central Bureau of Statistics officially recognized a third gender in addition to male and female. It also provides citizenship, passport, Ncell sim card registration, etc. with a third gender option. Yet there is not great acceptance for them in the society. Most of the violence and discrimination comes to third genders.[13]

Third gender Literacy Rate[edit]

Literacy rates of third genders in Nepal still remains very low. In 2014, Blue Diamond Society asked for implementation of rules in educational sector that might bring friendliness to third genders. Third genders face extreme gender-based violence and this greatly limits their ability to attend school or receive proper education. Furthermore, religion restricts the opportunities for third gender to receive education.[14]

Gender-Based Violence to third genders[edit]

Gender-based violence (GBV) to third gender is a severe issue in Nepal where its third gender often find themselves susceptible to both public and domestic violence which constitutes discrimination, abuse in the workplace and at home, and elsewhere. There is a persistence of harmful traditional practices deemed life-threatening.Reasons for gender-based violence to third genders in Nepal are largely attributed to social taboos and superstitions associated with third genders and deeply entrenched beliefs that propagate derogatory attitudes toward third genders such as sin . Likewise, results derived from INSEC’s monitoring of the situation indicated that subjugating women to domestic violence was considered a deep-rooted traditional practice.[18] Survey results also show that 20 and 23 per cent of men third genders in Nepal view domestic violence as being acceptable. Despite efforts of various human rights and LGBT rights NGOs, together with international aid agencies, to lobby for the elimination of violence through implementation of more effective measures. Complaints by third gender’s rights activists are directed towards the lackadaisical efforts of the law enforcement agencies in which disputes are settled without any charges pressed against the perpetrators.


The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist has made several homophobic statements during the civil war. Until 2007, party members have described homosexuality as "a production of capitalism" that "doesn't exist under socialism", and LGBT people as "social pollutants."[15] Since 2008 with the end of the civil war and beginning of multi-party democracy, the Maoists have come out as supporters of LGBT rights.[16][17][18]


The human rights organization Blue Diamond Society, established in 2001, seeks to represent LGBT people in Nepal politically and provide assistance with sexual health in the community. A drop-in centre exists in Kathmandu.

However, according to the Blue Diamond Society, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and Metis (cross-dressing males) sometimes suffer from violence, rape, abuse, blackmailing and murder threats and continue to be discriminated against or even abused in work places.[19]


The country's most prolific LGBT acitivist, politician and Blue Diamond Society president Sunil Babu Pant has announced plans of the Nepal Tourism Board to promote Nepal as a gay-friendly tourist destination.[20] An LGBT Tourism conference was supposed to occur in February 2010. Sensitivity training was said to have been conducted in selected catering and hospitality venues.[21]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2007)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employement Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all others areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes (Since 2011)
Third gender option Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Parashar, Uptal (19 January 2010). "Nepal charter to grant gay rights". Hindustan Times. 
  2. ^ a b Nelson, Dean (19 January 2010). "Nepal 'to stage gay weddings on Everest'". Daily Telegraph (London). 
  3. ^, "Nepal High Court Issues Landmark Gay Ruling," 21 December 2007[dead link]
  4. ^ Nepal court rules on gay rights BBC News, 21 December 2007
  5. ^ a b Gay activist in Nepal campaigns against discrimination, by Henry Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 June 3008
  6. ^ Court Decision, Blue Diamond Society[dead link]
  7. ^ Prince's marriage stokes gay issue, India Today (accessed 1 November 2009)
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Nepal enters crisis mode as constitution talks fail". BBC News. 28 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Nepal court allows lesbian live-in relationship - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  11. ^ "Nepal court allows lesbian live-in relationship - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 
  12. ^ Nepal census recognizes 'third gender'
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Human Rights Watch: "Nepal: Maoists Should End Anti-Gay Violence", 16 April 2007
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Nepal to offer shelter to South Asia's battered gays". The Times Of India. 22 June 2011. 
  19. ^ About Us, Blue Diamond Society (accessed 1 November 2009)
  20. ^ Nepal wants a lot of gay people to come visit, (accessed 1 November. 2009)
  21. ^ 23 October 2009: Nepal to Lure Gay Tourists, The Advocate (accessed 1 November 2009)

External links[edit]