Same-sex marriage or marriage equality ?

Madhav Dulal/Lalitpur (Pahichan) April 26 – After three years of submission of same-sex marriage report to government, discussion on marriage equality has begun. Government’s reluctance to implement the report has triggered the new discussions on marriage.

Following the Supreme Court order, an eight-member committee had submitted report to government in 2071 B.S, suggesting legalizing same-sex marriage. The report has clearly mentioned that not only lesbians or gay, government needs to make a law to ensure the marriage of transgender women, transgender male and inter-sex people.

While preparing the report, members of this community had reached the houses of LGBTI community in order to solicit their views in the report. However, the report has been sidelined initiating debate on marriage equality. Right Here, Right Now has initiated debate saying that same-sex marriage means marriage between gay men and lesbian women.  The organization said that it is not aware the marriage of transgender male and female and inter-sex people.

According to experts, same-sex marriage means marriage of homosexual couple following social ritual and tradition, while marriage equality means providing equal rights to both homosexual and heterosexual people.

Currently, there is no marriage equality in Nepal because same-sex marriage has not been legalized. According to experts, same-sex marriage law is mandatory to pave the way for the marriage equality. If same-sex marriage is legalized, attention must be paid whether homosexual and heterosexual couple would get equal status and rights.

“Marriage equality is not achievable overnight and it takes time. The example of other countries shows that it takes time,” said member of first Constituent Assembly Sunil Babu Pant. For example, in UK homosexual were recognized as civil partnership in 2004 and it was not called marriage at that time. Homosexual couple received marriage recognition and equality only in 2014.

“The marriage equality is related to adoption of children, property, social security, pension and tax related issues,” Pant said. The argument made by Pant who is a campaigner of LGBTI rights not only in Nepal but also in South Asia indicates that no one can undermine the same-sex marriage report.

There is a linked between government report and debate on marriage equality. The organization is in consultations with stakeholders. They have also expected feedback and suggestions from Blue Diamond Society about their campaign of marriage equality.

In the discussion, Legal Advisor of BDS Sujan Panta said non-implementation of court verdict means contempt of court. “As per the constitutional provisions new laws on same-sex marriage must be formulated within Bhadra, 2075,” said Panta.

Anuj Peter Rai who is working in BDS said members of this community must get marriage rights like male and female in the society. Another Rights Activist Aditya Rai said the new law must address all the issues such as adoption of children, property among others.  Now, stakeholders should press the concerned authorities to implement same-sex marriage.

Why govt is shillyshally to implement same-sex marriage report?