December 21, 2007 / 3:15 PM / 11 years ago

Nepal ordered to end discrimination against gays

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government on Friday to end discrimination against gays and guarantee sexual minorities the same rights as other citizens.

Nepali men and women who identify themselves as transgender say they are discriminated against in jobs and education, and do not get government identification certificates with their gender as the “third sex” instead of male or female.

Gay rights activists say they have difficulties in inheriting property in the Hindu-majority nation because they belong to neither the male or female category.

Supreme Court judges Pawan Kumar Ojha and Balaram K.C., in response to a petition by Nepal’s main gay rights group, Blue Diamond Society (BDS), ordered the government to scrap or amend laws that discriminate against the sexual minority.

“It is a huge victory for us,” said Sunil Pant, founder of the BDS.

Hours after the decision about two dozen lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people sprinkled vermilion powder on themselves and marched in a victory parade near the Supreme Court.

Now, education, citizenship papers and jobs could be given to individuals without identifying them as males or females and by mentioning their gender as “third sex”, Pant said.

In conservative Nepal, “unnatural sex” can fetch punishment of up to one year in jail

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; editing by Krittivas Mukherjee

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