Recognition of same-sex unions in Nepal
Same-sex marriage is not recognized or performed in Nepal. In 2011 and 2012, as the nation was undergoing a transition, there was an attempt to add LGBT-inclusive language to a newly drafted Constitution. However, negotiations among political factions failed in the spring of 2012 and the implementation of an interim constitution was placed on hold until new elections were held.
Sunil Babu Pant and Others v. Nepal Government
On November 17, 2008, Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of laws to guarantee full rights to LGBT people, and all gender minorities must be defined as "natural persons" under the law; this included the right to marry. "This is a landmark decision for the sexual minorities and we welcome it," said Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal's first publicly gay lawmaker and a leading gay rights activist in South Asia. The court asked the Government to form a committee to study same-sex partnership laws in other countries and mandated that the new law not discriminate against sexual minorities, including cross-dressing and transgender people.
On March 22, 2009, Pant said in an interview with the Indo-Asian News Service that "Though the court has approved of same-sex marriage, the Government is yet to enact a law," signaling that while a same-sex marriage bill has been ordered by the Supreme Court, it has yet to be drafted or voted on, much less legislated. In June 2009, Pant said the process has just started: "Nepal is going through transition and everything seems to move slowly. The seven-member committee has formed and just started working to study same-sex marriage bills in other countries. Hopefully they will draft the suggestion to make same-sex marriage law soon and give it to the Government to approve."
Rajani Shahi v. National Women's Commission
In 2012, Nepal's Supreme Court recognized a live-in relationship between a lesbian couple in Rajani Shahi v. National Women's Commission. The Court allowed Rajani Shahi to live with her partner Prem Kumari Nepali as she wished, rather than with her husband. The verdict stated:
"Individuals can decide as to choosing their ways of living either separately or in partnership together with homosexuals or heterosexuals – with or without solemnizing marriage. Although in the prevailing laws and tradition “marriage” denotes legal bond between heterosexuals (male and female), the legal provisions on the homosexual relations are either inadequate or mute [sic] by now."
Several sources reported that same-sex marriage and protections for sexual minorities will be included in the new Nepalese Constitution being drafted. The Interim Constitution provided for a Constituent Assembly, which was charged with writing Nepal's permanent Constitution. Under the terms of the Interim Constitution, the new Constitution was to be promulgated by November 30, 2011, but a final six month extension was granted just before this deadline bringing the date to May 31, 2012. Negotiations on the new Constitution failed and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2012 in preparations for the 2013 elections. As a result, the future of same-sex marriage was uncertain.
The elections were held on 19 November 2013. The vote was repeatedly delayed, having previously been planned for 22 November 2012 following the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly on 27 May 2012, but it was put off by the election commission. On 10 February 2014, Sushil Koirala was elected as prime minister with a large majority, breaking the political deadlock and opening the way for the Constitution to be finalised.
However, the new Constitution, approved in 2015, does not address the issue of same-sex marriage.
In January 2014, Chaitanya Mishra, member of the committee formed to study international laws on same-sex marriage and prepare the report for the Government on the matter, stated that the work on the report has been completed, except for a summary to be drafted by the chairman of the committee. The chairman, Laxmi Raj Pathak, promised to submit the report to the Government within a month, but said that the Cabinet is not interested in the matter. Bhumika Shrestha of the Blue Diamond Society, a Nepalese gay rights group, has not ruled out the possibility of another lawsuit with the Supreme Court.
In August 2014, the Associated Press reported that the committee had decided to recommend the legalization of same-sex marriage. The same month, Narahari Acharya, the country's Minister of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs, stated that his ministry will present a bill to allow such marriages. The committee submitted its report to the Government on 9 February 2015.
In January 2016, a government official stated that the recommendations of the committee were under consultation within the Government. In February 2016, the National Human Rights Commission asked the Government to introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage. In October 2016, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare created a committee for the purpose of preparing a draft bill on the issue. Provisions legalising same-sex marriage were not included in a proposed new civil code, and the Government later stated that same-sex marriage would be addressed in a separate bill.
Case of one marriage
In July 2017, a couple (one partner identifies as third gender) successfully registered their marriage in the far-western Dadeldhura District. LGBT activist Sunil Babu Pant congratulated the married couple and said that a same-sex marriage law is still being discussed in Parliament. Home Ministry spokesman Deepak Kafle said that the marriage could be invalid.
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