Nepal courts refuse to register same-sex marriage

Nepal flags (Image: WikiCommons)

Two courts in Nepal have refused to recognise a same-sex marriage, despite a Supreme Court ruling in favour of gay marriage.

In May the country’s Supreme Court recommended that the country’s government recognise gay marriage. A legislative change has not yet happened.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a couple – Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey – tried to register their marriage in June at the Kathmandu District Court. The couple then went to the Patan High Court for an appeal.

The couple was originally rejected, as per HRW, because the court deemed the couple not legally one male and one female. Gurung is a trans woman but HRW said she is legally recognised as a man. Pandey is a cisgender man.

Both courts said a law change was required before they had to register same-sex marriages.

The Nepal Supreme Court decision was celebrated in May. That happened as a result of another couple – Adheep Pokhrel and his German partner, Tobias Volz.

The couple married in Germany in 2018 and applied for a non-tourist visa for Volz in 2022. While Nepal doesn’t recognise same-sex marriage, it does recognise same-sex marriages involving a Nepali citizen and a foreign national.

The couple’s request was denied on the grounds that the application form reads ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. Citing a previous and almost identical case from 2017 the couple applied again in August but was still denied. The Nepal court ordered the government to grant the visa in the 2017 case.

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