Gender equality yet to be attained despite progress

Kathmandu (Pahichan) October 9 – It has been almost two decade since the sexual and gender minority began their movement demanding to ensure identity in society. In this period, Nepal has formulated a lot of laws and regulation for internal purpose and to guarantee human rights.

Various international treaties and conventions have been ratified which ensures the rights of all groups in the society, including minority community. Human rights have been protected mentioning 31 fundamental rights in the constitution; recently age-old civil and criminal codes have been replaced by new one which came into effect from mid-August.

The laws which are being formulated with a purpose of making an inclusive state and they aim to end discrimination based on class, caste, region and gender. A step ahead in comparison with other countries, Nepal began to formulate laws from 2007 which historic verdict by Supreme Court which ruled government to treat this community with equal footing like male and female.

The SC also stated that the rights of this community should be ensured along with their identity. The apex also issued an order in the name of government to formulate a committee to suggest ways to formulate laws on same-sex marriage. The move was indeed a historic ruling when it comes to securing the rights of sexual and gender minority.

Later, government formed a committee to suggest ways for legalizing same-sex marriage which has already submitted the report the then Chief Secretary Lila Mani Paudel. Till now, there is not any progress in the direction of formulating same-sex marriage and debates are going on. The same-sex marriage report is gathering dust in Ministry.

When debate on same-sex marriage began in Nepal, only 6-7 countries had legalized same-sex marriage but the number has reached to 26 but there is not fundamental change in Nepal. We are not doing anything rather than holding discussions about the possibility of such marriage.

There was high hope that the civil and criminal would address the issues of this community.  Government resorted to a narrow understanding and debate saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would invite social problems which is not logical and convincing. The code could not address the concerns of this community.

NC lawmaker and member of Sub-committee Radhe Shyam Adhikari is now saying that government would bring separate laws to address the concerns of this community but there is not hopeful situation.

There is not solid foundation to believe that separate laws would be formulated as claimed by Adhikari who was always no-cooperative to address the issues of this community. There is lack of political commitment when it comes to cementing the rights of this community.

On September 6, India’s Supreme Court issued a historic verdict which clearly stated that same-se relation is not a crime. More than that India’s court took the reference of verdict made by Nepal’s Supreme Court in 2007 calling it a breakthrough in securing the rights of LGBTI. Our policy makers denied rights showing the examples of India but India has made progress but we are still lagging behind.

Indian LGBTI community is celebrating their victory but members of this community in Nepal are living in despair and pain, eagerly waiting their rights as mentioned in constitution. Citizenships are not easily available from district. It is a gross violation of human rights to take same-sex relation as a crime which needs to be changed.

In the world history, LGBTI community used to be taken as a marginalized community and persons with unnatural behavior and activities. Later, those concepts were totally eradicated and there is international legal framework to protect the rights. Now, it is regarded as a part of human rights across the globe.

The article 12 has ensured the right to citizenship, article 18 has ensured the right to equality and article 45 has ensured the right to proportional representation.

There is not authentic and official data about this community. According to estimation conducted by Blue Diamond Society, the population of LGBTI community is about one million.

Constitution has secured the rights of this community but unfortunately there has been no progress in securing the laws. Though, there is not legal protection, society is gradually accepting this community.

Summary of the article published in Farakdhar