Nepal’s religious leaders challenge same-sex marriage in violation of court order

Nepal’s religious leaders challenge same-sex marriage in violation of court order

Kathmandu: Anti-human rights activities have taken place rampantly in the name of religious groups. In particular, the sexual and gender minorities have for a long time been the target of a particular group in the name of religion as their rights have been encroached upon. Even former members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are found to have been involved in the anti-human rights activities.

A religious group including former NHRC members have openly spoken up against the same-sex marriage that took place recently as per the verdict of the Supreme Court.

Media Advocacy Forum (MAF) Nepal, a non-governmental organisation, has brought together a group of people, who oppose same-sex marriage, pointing out that the issue has been questioned and an issue of controversy.

MAF Nepal president Bidur Adhikari has objected to same-sex marriage terming it distortion. He said that he is not in favor for the society to give place for distortion instead of prioritising individual’s private desires and new discoveries.

Stating that issues related to social, legal and human rights have become a matter of concern for MAF Nepal, he spoke against granting rights to the sexual and gender minorities.

In a programme organised by MAF Nepal, participants including Christian religious gurus, representatives of the World Hindu Federation (WHF) Nepal, Buddhist religious gurus, and former NHRC members delivered controversial statements that same-sex marriage is dangerous for human civilisation.

On the occasion, Dr Sundar Thapa, also known as a Christian religion guru termed same-sex marriage unnatural, unproductive, sinful, deserving of divine punishment and fatal to human civilisation.

Swami Damodar Gautam, chief advisor to the WHF Nepal, who considers himself a contractor of Hinduism, has come down heavily on the communities arguing that same-sex marriage does not fall under the discipline of Eastern philosophy. He further criticised same-sex marriage as unfortunate.

Another Buddhist religious leader, monk and head priest of Anand Kuti Vihar, Mahasthavir argued that religion does not envisage same-sex marriage.

However, their statements are in conflict with the Constitution of secular Nepal that guarantees rights to all citizens of the country, including the sexual and gender minorities.

On June 27, 2023, the Supreme Court gave an interim order for the Government of Nepal to make a law to register same-sex marriage, and register same-sex marriage in a temporary record until the law is made. On November 29, 2023, Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey registered their same-sex marriage in Dordi Rural Municipality in Lamjung district, leading Nepal to become the first country to legalise same-sex marriage in South Asia, and second in Asia behind Taiwan in Asia. Neighboring countries China and India have yet to legalise same-sex marriage.

Although a law has yet to be made to legalise same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage has been registered in a temporary record as per the order of the Supreme Court, said Sunil Babu Pant, Asia’s first openly gay former parliamentarian of Nepal, and the executive director for Mayako Pahichan Nepal, a social organisation advocating for the rights of the sexual and gender minorities.

He also criticised those who call themselves Hindu and Buddhist gurus for objecting to the communities.

He also suggested that those who consider themselves agents of religion study Eastern philosophy to gain knowledge about the communities. “Eastern philosophy not only mentions the existence of homosexuals and third genders, but also mentions many references to same-sex marriage,” Pant wrote on Facebook, “You are not allowed to hold your extreme conservative religious hatred against the minority communities who have been guaranteed the constitutional rights. We strongly condemn the “poisonous” statements of such religious gurus.”

He however expressed his respect for religious gurus who stand for human rights.

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