The Nepalese government has moved to formally recognise the GLBT community, allowing them to be listed as a third gender on official forms.
In a verdict passed on Thursday, the government ruled that the option of ‘other’ should join the ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories listed on citizenship identification cards.
This is expected to quash discrimination levelled against those whose gender does not match that listed on their official documents.
“Our community feels we are finally being granted an identity by the state,” says Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay politician.
“Getting an identification will solve 50 per cent of our problems. It will also help find the correct figures on the number of third gender in Nepal, so the government can address the problems facing this community.”
Pant, who is also the president of GLBT advocacy group Blue Diamond Society, expects this decision to make it easier for sexual minorities to apply for jobs, open bank accounts and obtain travel permits.
The decision comes five years after the Nepalese Supreme Court asked the government to enshrine equality for the GLBT community into law.
Last year, the Nepalese census became the world’s first to include a gender other than male or female.
Nepal has now become the third Asian country to recognise sexual minorities on official documents – citizens in India can obtain passports and voter identity cards listing them as eunuchs or ‘E’ and Bangladesh also recognises a third gender on voter identity cards.
The decision is expected to come into effect in the next couple of weeks, the Nepalese Home Ministry says.