Depressing delay to settle LGBTI issues related to citizenship

Kathmandu (Pahichan) March 15 – We all are men. Surprisingly, we see differences between us. We do not trust each other. When it comes to punishment and increasing it, we let others to settle this issue as soon as possible.

It is a part of discussion that took place in the meeting of State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of House of Representatives. There was harsh exchange of words between lawmakers Prem Suwal and Navaraj Silwal when discussion was underway on the bill registered to amend Nepal Citizenship Act 2063. When lawmaker Devenda Raj Kandel argued that there should be equal punishment for Nepali national and foreigners other lawmakers Dila Sangrula, Mina Pandey, Jhapat Rawal, Maheshwor Gahatraj argued that there should be more punishment to foreigners.

It has been seven months since Committee Chairman Sashi Shrestha started discussions on bill but there has not been agreement. In the previous time, Suwal used to come on time and engage in question-answer, came in the eleventh hour and asked about the required number to endorse bill.

The meeting which was originally called for 12 noon started in 1 pm. Lawmakers were able to present their views in all committees.  When discussion was underway, there were just 11 members. There are 25 members in the committee along with chair. Bijaya Subba ironically said that they are passing through consensus not by two-third votes.

Many of the issues are resolved but still there has not been an agreement about providing citizenship to sexual and gender minority. Lawmaker Rajendra Shrestha who also registered an amendment proposal is taking up this issue but he was absent in the meeting which discussed about the punishment provisions.

Though some lawmakers backed up the issue, others were of the view that citizenship should not be provided through voluntary announcement. Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai is in favor of producing medical certificate.  There are not uniform views regarding the proposal tabled by Shrestha. The article 12 of constitution has ensured the citizenship based on identity but there has not been a discussion on same spirit in law-making process. The bill was tabled in Parliament in July 8. The section 8 of bill has talked about citizenship on the basis of identity. The provision states that there is a need of disclosing gender identity but lawmakers are stating that members of this community should introduce medical report.

 World Health Organization in 1990 announced that it is not a disease but there are still logics in Nepal that members of this community should present medical report. It is discriminate that male and female can get citizenship through voluntary announcement but same case is not applied on LGBTI community. In each discussion there are fears among lawmakers that foreigners could get Nepali citizenship if there are loopholes. Now, there has been agreement that people who can pay should not stay in jail. It is a disappointment that there has not been agreement about providing citizenship about LGBTI such as presenting medical report, changing earlier provisions among others.