Today, HRC hailed the passage of a new constitution in Nepal that provides explicit protections for LGBT people from discrimination, violence, and abuse--a historic first for a nation in Asia. Nepal joins only a handful of countries, including South Africa and Ecuador, that have enshrined equal rights protections for LGBT people in their national constitutions.
Nepal’s Parliament endorsed the new constitution on September 16, making it the first constitution the republic has passed since abolishing its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008. President Ram Baran Yadav is slated to promulgate the constitution at a ceremony in Parliament on September 20.
“This is a momentous step forward for LGBT equality in Nepal. The nation’s leadership has affirmed that its LGBT citizens deserve the constitutional right to live their lives free from discrimination and fear,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “We congratulate LGBT Nepalis and their allies for this historic victory, and hope to see other nations across Asia and the globe take similar steps to ensure full legal equality for their LGBT citizens.”
In anticipation of the historic occasion, HRC released a one-pager detailing Nepal’s new constitution and what it means for the LGBT community in Nepal. Though there is still work left to be done, this new constitution can help foster momentum for the robust LGBT movement in Nepal, and could lead to further progress elsewhere in Asia.
"This new Constitution makes clear that we can be proud of our LGBT identities, and that we can be proud citizens of Nepal," said Sunil Babu Pant, founder of Blue Diamond Society and Asia's first openly gay federal member of parliament. "This victory is just the beginning of our long road towards full equality. We are ready to move beyond the discrimination, violence and exclusion of the past, and continue with even greater integrity, responsibility and dedication to contribute to the nation-building process. We will be working together with Nepali and international allies to build our nation, a 'new, inclusive and prosperous Nepal'."
The new constitution explicitly states that “sexual and gender minorities” (SGM) cannot be discriminated against by the state or the judiciary. There is no direct mention of same-sex marriage in the new constitution, but all issues related to marriage in general will be handled in the civil code, which will be revised in the future. Notably, in South Africa, constitutional protections were used as a necessary pathway towards full marriage equality, which could happen in Nepal. With equality enshrined in the constitution, the document provides important legal avenues for LGBT activists fighting to pursue full equality without fear of repercussions.
The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.
· 19 countries now have marriage equality and in two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.
· But in 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.
· In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.
Learn more about how the Human Rights Campaign is taking action and working with allies around the world to make a difference at: www.hrc.org/global.