Nepal Supreme Court judge Til Prasad Shrestha ruled that marriages of same-sex and non-traditional couples must be registered as “temporary” until lawmakers come up with a new legal framework to uphold such unions permanently
Nepal’s highest court has ordered the legal registration of same-sex marriages, a first step towards marriage equality for non-heterosexual couples in conservative South Asia.
In an interim ruling on June 28th, the court ordered Nepal’s government to set up a separate register of marriages for same-sex couples, whom lawyers say will have the same rights as heterosexual partners.
The court also asked opponents of its landmark order to file their objections within two weeks.
The ruling makes Nepal the first country to recognize same-sex marriages in South Asia, where Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have all opposed same-sex civil unions.
The only the Asian country to legalized same-sex marriage is Taiwan.
The ruling followed a petition submitted by LGBTQ+ activists last month to enforce existing rulings, dating back to 2007, that instructed the government to amend Nepalese legislation to recognize same-sex marriage for the sake of equal rights. Successive governments have so far failed to change the law.
One of the petitioners, Pinky Gurung, a trans woman who heads Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society gay rights group, called the latest verdict historic.
“I think it shows that there are people accepting us gradually,” she said.