8-14 July 2016 #816

What’s in the Constitution

When Nepal promulgated its new Constitution in September 2015, Madhesi politicians blockaded the border. However, Nepal’s sexual minorities hailed the document which explicitly guarantees equal rights for them.

Nepal became the first nation in Asia and the third in the world, after South Africa and Ecuador, to ensure equal constitutional rights to people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

The rights of Nepali citizens to choose their gender identity on citizenship and passports -- male, female or other -- is enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. The Department of Passports has already issued its first passport under the “O” category to [Monica Shahi](http://nepalitimes.com/gallery/image/First-transgender- in-Nepal- to-get-), 37 (pictured), a transgender activist.

Article 18 forbids discrimination against gender and sexual minorities by the state or judiciary, and Article 42 safeguards the right of gender and sexual minorities to participate in the civil service and state mechanisms. Transgender activists have applauded the government’s efforts to protect the rights of sexual minorities, but they say implementation is slack.

“We are very happy that the government has explicitly guaranteed our rights in the Constitution. Now the government should implement them,” says transgender activist Bhumika Shrestha. She says the government needs to address issues of same-sex marriage, right to property, right to adopt children and affirmative action.

The Supreme Court in 2007 had issued a verdict to recognise LGBTIs as a third gender category and also ruled to recognise same-sex marriage. Pinky Gurung, President of the Blue Diamond Society, says the government should publicise recently-introduced provisions in order to facilitate the implementation process.

“Many LGBTIs are facing obstacles in [obtaining citizenship](http://nepalitimes.com/article/editorial/Nepal-land- of-our- daughters,2901) despite provisions in the Constitution because local-level government officials are unaware of it,” says Gurung. “The government should circulate the necessary information to all government offices.”

Shreejana Shrestha

who’s what

Lesbian: A woman/female-identified person attracted to another woman/female-identified

Gay: A broad term referring to homosexuals, particularly to specify a man/male-identified person attracted to man/male-identified person

Bisexual: An individual who is attracted to persons of the same or opposite sex

Transgender: An umbrella term for persons whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their anatomical sex or the gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersex: Describes a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. The term 'intersex' is not interchangeable with, or a synonym for 'transgender'.

Read Also:

The third gender, Tulsi Ram Subedi

Nothing about us, without us, Sunil Babu Panta

Hidden in plain view, Ayesha Shakya

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