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Nepal registers first same-sex marriage hailed as win for LGBT rights

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Image source, Madhav Dulal/BBC

Nepal has registered its first same-sex marriage, which activists hailed as a victory for LGBT rights.

Authorities in the western Lumjung district formally registered the union of Maya Gurung, 35, and Surendra Pandey, 27, on Wednesday.

It came five months after the Supreme Court issued an interim order allowing same-sex couples to register their marriages.

Taiwan is the only other place in Asia that has legalised same-sex marriage.

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Ms Gurung told the BBC that their registration was a “big day” not just for the couple, but all sexual minorities.

“The fight for rights is not easy. We have done it. And it will be easier for future generations,” she said. “The registration has opened doors to a lot of things for us.”

The couple had said that they wanted to open a joint bank account and share ownership of the land they bought. But their biggest dream is to adopt a child, once their finances are more stable.

They have been together for almost a decade. The couple wed in a temple ceremony in 2017 and had sought legal recognition of their unionthis year.

Ms Gurung is a transgender woman who has not changed her gender on official documents. Mr Pandey was born and identifies as male.

On 13 July, a district court in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, refused to register their marriage despite the Supreme Court’s order that directed the government to register such unions until it prepared legislation to change the law.

The district court had argued that lower courts were not bound to follow the order as it was only directed at the government.

But on Wednesday, Hem Raj Kafle, chief administrative officer of the Dordi rural municipality, told Reuters: “We have issued the marriage registration certificate to the couple in consideration of the Supreme Court order and instructions from relevant government authorities.”

Leading LGBT rights activist Sunil Babu Pant called the “historic” moment a victory for sexual and gender minorities.

“Now we can register our marriage as do the regular couples. But we still have to do more to get other rights,” he told the BBC.

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