Nepal’s sexual minorities say progress in rights has stalled

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09/18/2019

Nepal seized the lead in equal rights for sexual minorities in South Asia four years ago with a new constitution that forbids all discrimination based on sexual orientation. Even citizenship certificates and passports now allow a “non-male, non-female” category. But same-sex couples such as Niraj Sunwar and Aashik Lama say progress has stalled since the constitution was adopted. Sunwar, 23, and Lama, 28, are still waiting for the day when they can legally marry. Lama also hopes to adopt a child, which isn’t possible because no laws currently allow it. “We want to be lawfully wedded in a government office and have a legal certificate so we can openly live the life we want,” Lama said. “We want to adopt a baby and start a family life.” Such rights were enshrined in the constitution, which was introduced after the abolition of Nepal’s centuries-old monarchy, because of a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that outlawed all discrimination against sexual minorities. LGBT activists, however, say politicians have failed to write new laws that reflect their rights.

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