Nepal Courts Refuse Register Same Sex Marriages.

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Nepal courts refuse register same sex marriages

Two lower courts in Nepal have refused to recognize a couple’s marriage, in defiance of the Supreme Court’s recent interim order to register same-sex marriages pending legislative change. The couple – Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey – plan to seek redress from the Supreme Court.

Gurung, a transgender woman legally recognized as a man, and Pandey, a cisgender man, performed a Hindu wedding ceremony in 2017 and made their first attempt to register their marriage in June at the Kathmandu District Court, following the Supreme Court’s order. When this court rejected their registration, stating that it had no need to recognize a couple who were not a legal man and a legal woman, they appealed to the Patan High Court.

In their decision, the high court judges stated that, since the Supreme Court order appointed the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, it was incumbent on the federal government to amend the law before lower courts could register such marriages.

Nepal’s civil code currently only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court attempted to rectify this by ordering the creation of an interim register for non-traditional marriages until parliament amended the law. The two lower courts are now reversing the logic, asserting that the national law must first be amended.

Nepal’s Supreme Court has a world-renowned record of decisions upholding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, although implementation has been piecemeal. In 2007, the court ordered the government to form a committee to study same-sex marriage. In 2015, this committee recommended that the government “legally recognize same-sex marriage on the basis of the principle of equality”. However, successive governments have failed to present legislation to parliament, leading to further court rulings. Earlier this year, the court ordered the government to recognize the marriage of a Nepalese man who had married a German man.

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Nepal courts refuse register same sex marriages

By refusing to register same-sex marriages, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the lower courts are undermining Nepal’s reputation as a legal leader on sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights, and risk violating constitutional protections for sexual and gender minorities. Prompt clarity and equality will benefit couples wishing to register their marriages.

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