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Nepal Achieves Landmark Marriage Equality Milestone: Second Asian Country to Register Same-Sex Marriages

In a groundbreaking development for human rights, Nepal has emerged as a trailblazer in the fight for marriage equality in Asia. Following a historic ruling by Nepal’s Supreme Court on June 28, the country is poised to become the second in the continent to legally recognize same-sex marriages, paving the way for hundreds of couples to formalize their unions.

Despite Nepal’s civil code currently stipulating marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman, the visionary verdict by Justice Til Pradad Shrestha has set the stage for momentous change. He ordered the immediate registration of same-sex marriages while the government undertakes the process of amending existing legislation.

Prominent LGBTI+ advocate Sunil Pant, who made history as Nepal’s first openly gay member of parliament, expressed jubilation at the transformative ruling. “People are already celebrating. They are rushing back to their villages to collect documents for their marriages,” Pant revealed. He anticipated that approximately 200 same-sex couples could potentially register their unions in the upcoming months.

Nepal’s Supreme Court has garnered admiration for consistently upholding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community through a series of rulings. As early as 2007, the court directed the government to establish a committee tasked with drafting legislation to legalize same-sex marriages. In 2015, this committee advocated for the recognition of same-sex marriages based on principles of equality. However, successive administrations failed to enact the recommended legislation, prompting additional judicial interventions. Earlier this year, in March, the court ordered the government to acknowledge the marriage of a same-sex couple who had wed in Germany.

The court’s most recent decision reflects an apparent impatience with governmental delays and a steadfast commitment to advancing equal rights. Nepal’s 2015 constitution solidifies the prohibition of gender discrimination and enshrines protections for sexual minorities.

The implications of this landmark ruling reverberate beyond Nepal’s borders, serving as a watershed moment for equal rights in the region. The onus now falls on Nepal’s cabinet and parliament to expedite the process of amending existing laws, fully realizing the promise of equality for all.