Nepal Registered Its First Transgender Marriage & It’s A Reminder Of What Progress Can Look Like
Despite the increased visibility of transphobic policy-making in the U.S. and other countries alike, there are certainly signs of progress: a few days ago, Nepal registered its first-ever transgender marriage — even though the country has no laws about same sex or transgender marriage on the books.
According to Public Radio International, Monika Shahi Nath, who legally identifies as a third gender, and who is referred to by she/her pronouns, married her husband Ramesh Nath Yogi in May of this year. After a few months, they were finally able to register the marriage in Monika’s home district in Western Nepal, marking Nepal's first-ever registered marriage of a transgender person.
Nepal has some of South Asia’s most progressive and inclusive policies on gender and sexuality. A Supreme Court case in 2007 forced the government to create a legal classification for people who identify as neither male nor female, and in 2015 the country began issuing passports with an “O” for “other,” Human Rights Watch reported. The country’s 2015 version of the constitution also contains explicit provisions against LGBTQ discrimination, making it one of few countries in the world to do so.
This is Nepal's first registered transgender marriage. pic.twitter.com/Yg0dwfhSVE— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) August 7, 2017
Yet Nepal, which has a population of almost 30 million people, has not passed any laws legalizing same-sex or transgender marriages, and some worry that the lack of legal protections may jeopardize this historic union. Even though the country’s new constitution expressly prohibits gender or sexuality-based discrimination, same-sex marriage is still illegal. Marriage equality advocates in the region say that this needs to be struck from the books. “This [marriage] is my attempt to awaken our government to make legal changes,” Shahi Nath told AFP, who originally reported the story. “Others like me should also have the right to marry the person they love.”
“I think because of our marriage, society will change,” said Nath Yogi in a video made by Al Jazeera.
This kind of trailblazing progress is very much needed in a world that, despite increasing amounts of acceptance, is still a very difficult place for the LGBTQ community. Countries like Australia are still debating whether or not to even vote on same-sex marriage, and of course, we cannot forget the legacy of violence against trans women of color in the United States, where 13 women have been killed in 2017 alone. But it’s important to celebrate the victories that do come along, as a reminder of how much progress we are still able to make.