Constitution day, citizenship and rights of LGBTI community

Kathmandu (Pahichan) September 20 – It has been four years since the new democratic and inclusive constitution was promulgated. For the first time in Nepal’s political history, the rights of sexual and gender minority were addressed by constitution adopted in 2015 so that it is regarded as a progressive constitution in South Asia. The LGBTI community who are facing a lot of discrimination and abuse in the society was upbeat when constitution guaranteed their rights.

However, the constitutional provisions were just a broader outline and there was a need of specific laws in order to provide rights to this community in a practical sense. Since then, LGBTI community is urging politicians, government and parliament to promulgate law in order to secure the rights of this community but there has not been any progress. The budget session of Parliament which concluded on Thursday was supposed to pass progressive citizenship law but it failed to do so.

On the one hand, they are turning deaf year to promulgate specific laws targeting this community, on the other hand, the existing draft of laws are discriminatory. The draft of citizenship Act is a case in point which remains in pending in Parliament since a year. The ongoing discussions on Citizenship Act clearly show that our politicians carry a traditional mindset of the society and they are not ready to provide rights to this community.

The draft of laws which is in State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of Parliament makes it mandatory for the members of this community to present medical proof in order to take citizenship as per their gender identity. Experts say it would be regressive provisions if such provision was endorsed by full house.

In the provision, it has been clearly mentioned that those who want to take citizenship under others category should not present medical proof but who want to take citizenship in the specific category such as homosexual, bio-sexual, inter-sex should present their medical proof. Presenting medical proof to get citizenship means, it is  a regressive steps which is not in practice in other countries. As per the new provision, people who have changed their sexual organ should present medical proof to get citizenship as per the new identity. Before the arrangement of such provisions, a case was filed in Supreme Court against the provisions of presenting medical proof.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that there is no need of presenting medical proof. Before SC verdict, district administration offices started to provide citizenship as per gender identity. They did not have to support medical proof to take citizenship as per their preferred identity. In this period, the committee held consultations with stakeholders regarding the rights of LGBTI but it seems that their suggestions were not accepted by the committee. On the citizenship bill, discussions are focused on naturalized citizenship but lawmakers are not serious about the constitutional rights of LGBTI community.

Nepali News