Saturday, 22 December 2007

Nepal Supreme Court Rules on Gay Rights

Nepal's sexual minorities have long complained of discriminationNepal's Supreme Court has ordered the government to scrap laws that discriminate against homosexuals.
The court ordered that sexual minorities should be guaranteed the same rights as other citizens.
Campaigners said the ruling was a "huge victory". Homosexuality is frowned upon in conservative South Asia. Nepalese laws do not explicitly criminalise homosexuality, but an "unnatural sex act" currently carries a prison term of up to a year. Human rights campaigners say the provision has been used to justify arrests of men who have sex with men and transgender people.

Gay men and women and members of other sexual minorities have long complained of discrimination in Nepal. In their ruling, two Supreme Court judges said: "The government of Nepal should formulate new laws and amend existing laws in order to safeguard the rights of these people.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society." Activists said it was a landmark ruling.
"It's a very encouraging and progressive decision. We all feel we are liberated today," Sunil Babu Pant, the president of the Blue Diamond Society which campaigns for Nepal's sexual minorities, told the AFP news agency. "There were no specific laws to protect the rights of sexual minorities but the Supreme Court's decision has opened the doors to enjoy our rights."
Mr Pant said education, citizenship papers and jobs could now be given to people without them having to identify themselves as male or female, or giving their gender as "third sex".
There was no immediate response from the government to Friday's ruling.
Great victory of Nepalese LGBTI !
Supreme Court of Nepal issued directive orders to the Government of Nepal to end discrimination against LGBTI and ensure equal rights as heterosexual men andwomen in Nepal.Four LGBTI organizations including Blue Diamond Society had filed a writ petition in last April 2007(05/01/2064) demanding to defend and protect equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) people of Nepal. After having heard 3 times over the last few months, Supreme Court of Nepal has recognized LGBTIs today as natural persons. It is believed that LGBTI will enjoy, today onward, all the rights according their sexual and gender identities as other genders enshrined by the Constitution of Nepal and human rights conventions in which Nepal is a State Party. The Court issued directive orders to Nepal government to ensure rights to life according to their own identities and introduce laws providing equal rights to LGBTIs and amend all the discriminatory laws against LGBTI's rights as well.
On the issue of same sex marriage, The Court has also issued directive order to form a 7 member committee (Doctor appointed by Health Ministry, one representative from National Human rights commission, law Ministry, socialist appointed by government of Nepal, representative from Nepal police, representative from Ministry of population and environment and one advocate as a representative from the LGBTI community) to conduct study about the other countries'/international practice on the same sex marriage. Based on the 7 member committee recommendation government will make appropriate law.
We, all LGBTI Nepalese, are extremely happy and proud on Supreme Court whose decision is extremely progressive on such a difficult issue for our society, especially on the matter of gender identity to the possible extinct. This is the first time ever any Supreme Court has spoken such a positive manner on gender identity issues ever on the world. We salute our honorable judges Balaram KC and Pawan Kumar Ojha.We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all friends, leaders, media, civil society, international support, political parties, OHCHR, ICJ, National Human Rights commission, Human Rights Watch, FWLD, Front Line Defenders, ILGHRC, Lawyers Collective, Alternative law forum, NFI, Outrageous, ARC international and our lawyers (Hari Phunyal- ICJ, Rup Narayan Shrestha- FWLD, Hari Upreti, Bhuvan Niraula, Sarmila Dhakal, Prem Rai-ICJ, Chandra Kanta Gaywanli). I also salute our LGBTI communities who have fought for years and stood for these rights even in difficult times and situation, without whose collective struggle it would have never been possible.
We would like to express our hearty thanks to our donors, LLH/Norad, HIVOS, Dutch Embassy, Astraea Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, CCOs, Sidaction,Elton John Aids Foundation, FHI, PSI, DFID, Global Fund for Women, Mama Cash, Urgent Action Fund, and Butlars County and many more.
In solidarity
Sunil B Pant

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