Nepal joins SA as new constitution protects LGBT people

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal (Pic: Royonx)

Nepal has passed a new constitution that provides explicit protections for LGBT people from discrimination, violence, and abuse – a first for an Asian nation.

It also joins only a handful of countries, including South Africa and Ecuador, that have enshrined equal rights protections for LGBT people in their national constitutions.

Nepal’s Parliament endorsed the new constitution on September 16, making it the first constitution the republic has passed since abolishing its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008.

The constitution explicitly states that “sexual and gender minorities” cannot be discriminated against by the state or the judiciary.

President Ram Baran Yadav is slated to promulgate the constitution at a ceremony in Parliament on September 20.

“This new Constitution makes clear that we can be proud of our LGBT identities, and that we can be proud citizens of Nepal,” commented Sunil Babu Pant, founder of Blue Diamond Society and Asia’s first openly gay federal member of parliament.

“This victory is just the beginning of our long road towards full equality. We are ready to move beyond the discrimination, violence and exclusion of the past, and continue with even greater integrity, responsibility and dedication to contribute to the nation-building process.”

Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, said it was “a momentous step forward for LGBT equality in Nepal.”

He added: “We congratulate LGBT Nepalis and their allies for this historic victory, and hope to see other nations across Asia and the globe take similar steps to ensure full legal equality for their LGBT citizens.”

There is no direct mention of same-sex marriage in the new constitution, but all issues related to marriage in general will be handled in the civil code, which will be revised in the future.

In South Africa, constitutional protections were used as a pathway towards full marriage equality, which could also happen in Nepal.

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