Constitution recognizes LGBTI community but society is yet to accept

Kathmandu (Pahichan) September 4 – On Baishak 5, 2064, then Chair of Blue Diamond Society Sunil Babu Pant filed a case in Supreme Court seeking legal and other rights for sexual and gender minority. Responding to writ, Supreme Court on Mangshir 4, 2064, issued directives to Nepal government, asking to provide rights to this community as per their identity.

As per court order, Bishnu Adhikari of Pokhara was the first person to receive citizenship mentioning third gender identity in citizenship. As third gender did not cover all the types of sexual and gender minority, Ministry of Home Affairs on Poush 17, 2069 issued a circular to all district administration offices asking to provide citizenship under Others (O) category.

According to the information provided by Ministry of Home Affairs, altogether 1300 members of this community have already received citizenship under O category and 177 people have received citizenship with third gender identity.  “We have already issued citizenship under O category,” said Ram Krishna Subedi, Spokesperson at Ministry of Home Affairs. Monica Shahi is the first transgender who received passport under O category. Shahi received passport on July, 2015. Bhumika Shrestha of Kathmandu has both passport and citizenship as per gender identity. She has travelled various countries from same visa.

Shahi who married with Ramesh Nath yogi has also received marriage certificate. Later, she registered a case against her husband on marriage rape. Department of Passport started issuing passport under O category from July, 2015. Department has already issues 29 such passports.  Sarad Chandra Poudel, former General Director of Department of Immigration says O category was mentioned in the documents of airport.

Strong constitutional provisions 

When it comes to the rights for sexual and gender minority, there is a strong legal and constitutional provisions. The article 12 of constitution has ensured the right of citizenship as per gender identity and article 18 of constitution has ensured that there would not be discrimination to this community. The article 42 has ensured the inclusive proportional representation of this community in state mechanism. The Public Service Commission has also mentioned O category in all exam related papers. In the last vacancy announced for local government, altogether 291 filled form mentioning O category. The Public Service Commission, however, has not made any changes in the answer sheet. Information Officer Devi Prasad Subedi informed that they would incorporate O category very soon.

Central Bureau of Statistics is preparing to conduct national census which takes place in every 10 years. CBS has already prepared model questions and it has dispatched to provincial and local level. However, there are no plans to including this community in national census and there are only two categories, male and female. Director of CBS Dhundiraj Lamichhane said there will be discussions with stakeholders on model questions. Members of this community vent their ire for excluding them in previous census. According to various reports the population of this community constitution constitutes 8-10 percent of total population.

Unfinished tasks

A major achievement of 10-year long struggle is state has accepted to mention O category along with female and female. The society, however, is yet to accept this community. In the experience of trans rights activist Bhumika Shrestha, members of this community are still struggling to get social acceptability. “That is why scores of this community are still forced to conceal their sexual and gender minority. Members of this community are struggling to get rights related to education, health, employment and other issues,” she said.

Balaram KC was one of the judges who issued historic verdict in favor sexual and gender minority. KC is of the view that there has not been full implantation of court verdict. “Sexual and gender minority should be treated like other humans, they deserve respect and society should understand this,” KC said.