Nepal recognizes the marriage of a transgender woman for the first time

A union made official five years later

Nepal recognizes the marriage of a transgender woman for the first time

A union made official five years later. Nepal has recognized for the first time in the country a marriage between a transgender woman and a cisgender man (who identifies with the gender assigned at birth), the authorities announced on Thursday (November 29). The bride and groom congratulate themselves on a victory “for all”.

Maya Gurung, a 41-year-old transgender woman, and Surendra Pandey, a 27-year-old cisgender man, who got married in 2017 in a Hindu ceremony, obtained their marriage certificate on Wednesday at a locality in central Lamjung district.

Yubraj Adhikari, the chairman of Dordi Rural Municipality, announced that it was issued in accordance with the instructions of the National Identification and Civil Registry Department, following a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court. The court in fact issued a provisional order in June allowing transgender and same-sex couples to have their marriages recognized, calling on the government to create a new temporary register for these unions, pending appropriate legislation.

“We are very happy and proud. It’s finally here,” Maya Gurung responded. “This is a victory, not just for us, but for all couples like ours,” she added.

The bride and groom first contacted the district authorities, who did not grant their request. Their appeal was also rejected. But the local authorities were “much more attentive”, welcomed their lawyer, Rounik Raj Aryal.

“A major event”

Many were waiting for Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey to lead the way. “This is a victory after a decades-long battle for marriage equality. [The couple] made history. This is a major event for us,” said Sunil Babu Pant, an activist for LGBTQ rights .

Nepal has some of the most progressive gay and transgender rights legislation in South Asia, including seminal reforms dating from 2007 that prohibit discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. Since 2015, it has also issued passports with the mention “other” for gender categories, no longer limiting the choice to “male or female”.

In 2023, the Supreme Court also ordered the government to recognize the non-heterosexual marriage of a Nepali person with a foreign person and to grant a visa to the latter. The LGBTQ community in Nepal, which numbers more than 900,000 members, nevertheless remains the victim of discrimination, particularly in employment, health and education.