Nepal distributes passport under ‘O’ category, a historical achievement

Madhav Dulal/Kathmandu (Pahichan) August 10 – In a milestone development towards ensuring the rights of LGBTI, Nepal has begun to issue the passport mentioning ‘O’ category. Thirty-seven year old Manoj Shahi, who is identified as ‘Monica’, has become the first person in World to bear a passport under the ‘other’ category.

Rewati Poudel, a director at the Department of Passports, handed the passport to Shahi on Monday and congratulated her.  Shahi hoped this milestone would provide momentum to the LGBTI movement in Nepal and would pave way for better reforms, “Today is a significant day and I hope the younger generation is encouraged by it,” said Shahi. Sahi said this is an achievement of Sunil Babu Pant, Chairman of Blue Diamond Society Pinki Gurung, Executive Director Manisha Dhakal, Deputy Director Parshuram Rai and other members.IMG_20150810_145323942

Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that issue passport s with ‘x’ as an option for people who do not identify as male or female. Earlier this year, Nepal had amended the Passport Regulations, allowing ‘other’ as one of the gender categories. It is the only country in the world to do so, according to activists.

Nepal added a transgender category to census and the citizenship card in 2011, after which gay advocates started negotiating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nepal has the track record of being one of the most progressive countries when it comes to gay rights in South Asia.

IMG_20150810_143907735The Interim Constitution prohibits discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. In 2007, the Supreme Court directed the government to amend laws that discriminate against LGBTI citizens. Sunil Babu Pant became the first gay parliamentarian in Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly, in 2008.

Sahi said she wanted to marry after Nepal legalizes the same-sex marriage. Sahi asked the government and other stakeholders to play role to mention her name in Guinness Book of World Record. Sahi has expressed desire to get passport through the hand of Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey. Sahi wants to scale the Mount Everest.

Chairman of Society Gurung expressed happiness for the new provisions in passports. Executive Director Dhakal thanked the government for taking the measures. Deputy Director Rai said it is a great achievement in securing the rights of LGBTI. The process was initiated by then head of Passport Department Ramesh Khanal. Khanal had urged the International Civil Aviation Authority to make such provisions.