Nepal finally registers first same-sex marriage for LGBTQ+ couple

Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey

An LGBTQ+ couple has finally become the first in Nepal to legally register a same-sex marriage – four months after the country’s landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Although the country’s civil code describes marriage as being between a man and a woman, a Supreme Court Justice made an interim order this July that same-sex marriage could be legally registered.

The ruling was celebrated by LGBTQ+ couples across the country, but when it came down to the crunch, registering a same-sex marriage still proved difficult.

Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey
Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey are the first LGBTQ+ couple in Nepal to register for same-sex marriage. (Getty)

LGBTQ+ couple Surendra Pandey and Maya Gurung had been rejected when applying to register their marriage and had their pleas rejected twice – once by a District Court and once by a High Court.

According to Human Rights Watch, Pandey is a cisgender man and Gurung is a transgender woman – though she is legally recognised by Nepal as a male, meaning their marriage falls under the category of same-sex marriage.

Finally, this Wednesday (30 November), the couple made history as the first in Nepal to receive official same-sex marriage status at the Dorje village council office, just west of the capital, Kathmandu.

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Sunil Babu Pant, an LGBTQ+ rights activist and openly gay former parliamentarian explained that the country’s Home Ministry made changes just this week to enable all local administration offices to register same-sex marriages.

“After 23 years of struggle we got this historic achievement, and finally Maya and Surendra got their marriage registered at the local administration office,” said Pant, who was present at the historical marriage registration.

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Nepal is the second Asian country to legally recognise same-sex marriage. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

“It was quite unexpected and it was a positive breeze for us,” Pant told the Associated Press.

The happy couple were married back in 2017 in a temple, in keeping with Hindu tradition, with friends and family present, but did not get an official marriage certificate to legalise their union.

Pandey and Gurung fell in love at first sight in 2015, though it took them some time to win the approval of both of their families.

Since their wedding ceremony six years ago, the two have been living like a married couple, along with their pet dog Suru.

Nepal is now the second Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, following closely behind Taiwan, whose parliament passed a law to legalise marriage equality in 2019.

It is now expected that Thailand could be the third Asian country to follow suit after the country’s cabinet approved an equality bill earlier this month.

In December, that bill will be brought to parliament and debated, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

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