KATHMANDU, May 24: Due to lack of a clear identity matching their sexual orientation and outlook, individuals in the ´others´ category always had to face scornful queries whether to treat them as men or women. They would get harassed at police stations, offices, schools, colleges, hospitals and, not surprisingly, most often at public toilets. But this kind of treatment is now a thing of the past.
In order to protect the rights and dignity of the third gender, the Home Ministry on Wednesday decided to provide citizenship under the ´others´ category to members of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) community. The Ministry has already written a letter to the Ministry of Law and Justice in this regard.
“Yes, the LGBTI community will from now onwards be categorized under ´others´ as per their wish. Only the technical process remains to be completed in this connection,” said Shankar Koirala, spokesperson at the Home Ministry. “We have already sent a letter to the Law Ministry to add the ´others´ head in all necessary forms, documents and indexes,” he added.
Euphoric over the government decision, transgender Dev Gurung remarked that the entire LGBTI community is now feeling empowered. “The state has given us our right. This means we will no longer face harassment for having a different sexual orientation. Society might take time to recognize and accept us for what we are, but what the state has given us now means half the battle is won,” he said.
Talking to Republica, another transgender, Badri Pun, stated that the legal recognition of ´others´ has direct implications for employment opportunities and greater acceptance in all quarters. “We used to be discriminated against at schools, colleges, hospitals, workplaces and in other public spaces. With the state now duly respecting our different sexual orientation, people cannot challenge us any longer, at least not on legal grounds,” he commented.
Pun, a transgender from Myagdi district, had moved the Supreme Court to get a citizenship certificate under ´third gender´ category in 2007. Earlier the same year, the apex court had granted such a citizenship to Bishu Adhikari after fighting a legal battle. However, the court order to treat such individuals as equal citizens had not been adhered to by the state so far.
LGBTI community leader and founder of the Blue Diomond Society Sunil Babu Pant, who is also a lawmaker, has termed the development a great victory for all LGBTIs in Nepal. “It was a constant battle for us. And now we are extremely happy. It has been possible thanks to Srijon Rana, secretary at the Home Ministry,” he exclaimed. “We had been lobbying for it for so long, and this time he took the initiative to make it finally happen,” Pant added.
According to Pant, 8 to 10 percent of the population of the country is estimated to be LGBTI.