Ceremony marks first same-sex marriage in Nepali society
KATMANDU, Nepal Cheered by scores of wedding guests, two gay men exchanged garlands of marigold on Aug. 26 in the first public same-sex marriage in tradition-bound Nepali society.
The guests, mostly activists from gay and lesbian rights groups and a few relatives applauded as Anil Mahaju, 25, and Diya Kashyap, 21, exchanged vows in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital.
The marriage, however, will not receive official approval, as Nepalese laws do not recognize same-sex unions, said Suni Pant, who heads the Blue Diamond Society, a non-government organization. There was no Hindu priest present to conduct the marriage.
“They have decided to get the marriage registered but I think they will have to wait for a new constitution that would legitimize same-sex marriages,” Pant said.
Rights groups are hoping a new constitution, currently being prepared by experts, would provide Nepal’s gay and lesbian community with their civil rights.
Although there are no official figures, Pant said there were around 20,000 gay men and 1,000 lesbians in Nepal a country with a population of around 25 million where gay sex is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison under public offense laws.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 25, 2006.