Nepal: IGLHRC Congratulates Nepali LGBTI Organizations on Supreme Court Victory

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) congratulates Nepal’s LGBTI organizations on today’s ruling by the Nepali Supreme Court recognizing the rights of LGBTI people in that country.

On November 21, 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal heard a writ petition submitted by Blue Diamond Society (BDS) and three other Nepali LGBTI groups demanding protection of their legal rights. Their demands were threefold: to recognize the civil rights of transgender people without requiring them to renounce one gender identity for another; to create a new law preventing discrimination and violence against LGBT communities; and to require the state to make reparations to LGBT victims of state violence and/or discrimination.

In response to a request by BDS for legal observers to be present at the hearing, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) commissioned a team of lawyers from India, Vivek Divan and Arvind Narrain, to serve as court observers and share legal strategy with BDS legal counsel. IGLHRC’s report can be viewed by clicking here. Below is a release by Sunil Pant of BDS announcing today’s victory.

Congratulations again to our Nepali colleagues including BDS, IGLHRC’s 2007 Felipa de Souza Award winner. You have set a new standard for LGBTI rights around the world.

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 and women 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
Blue Diamond Society