(CTN News) – Nepal celebrated a historic milestone as it officially recognized its first same-sex marriage, marking the culmination of a prolonged legal battle waged by the couple, Maya Gurung, 35, and Surendra Pandey, 27, along with supportive activists.
The formal registration of their union took place in the western Lumjung district on Wednesday, five months after the Supreme Court issued an interim order permitting same-sex couples to register their marriages.
Maya Gurung, a transgender woman who has retained her original gender on official documents, expressed the significance of the moment not only for herself and Surendra Pandey but for the entire spectrum of sexual minorities.
Gurung highlighted the arduous journey for equal rights, stating, “The fight for rights is not easy. We have done it. And it will be easier for future generations. The registration has opened doors to a lot of things for us.”
The couple, who have been together for nearly a decade, initially wed in a temple ceremony in 2017 and sought legal recognition of their union this year.
Their aspirations extend beyond the symbolic acknowledgment of their marriage, encompassing practical aspects such as opening a joint bank account and sharing ownership of the land they purchased.
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Furthermore, their ultimate dream involves adopting a child, a plan they aim to realize once their financial stability solidifies.
The legal journey faced hurdles, notably a district court in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, which, on 13 July, refused to register their marriage despite the Supreme Court’s directive.
The district court argued that lower courts were not obligated to adhere to the order, as it was directed solely at the government.
However, on the recent celebratory occasion, Hem Raj Kafle, chief administrative officer of the Dordi rural municipality, affirmed the issuance of the marriage registration certificate in compliance with the Supreme Court order and relevant government instructions.
This landmark event in Nepal echoes Taiwan as the only other location in Asia where same-sex marriage is legalized.
Sunil Babu Pant, a prominent LGBT rights activist, hailed the moment as a victory for sexual and gender minorities while emphasizing the ongoing need to secure additional rights.
He remarked, “Now we can register our marriage as do the regular couples. But we still have to do more to get other rights.” The recognition of Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey’s marriage stands as a testament to progress in the realm of LGBTQ+ rights within the country.