Is Nepal a Beacon of LGBTQ Rights?

The world celebrates the nation for South Asia’s “first same-sex marriage” and its progressive laws, but queer activists say the reality is far different.

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Members of Nepal's LGBT community take part in a gay pride parade in Kathmandu on August 27, 2018 (Gopen RAI / AFP via Getty Images)

Ayesha Le Breton


December 11, 2023


9 min

“I find it very problematic: the portrayal of Nepal as a progressive country,” said Rukshana Kapali, a transgender human rights activist based in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Against the backdrop of the mountains west of Kathmandu, Maya Gurung and Surendra Pandey finally registered their marriage on November 29 in the Dorge village council office. Headlines lauded the moment as historic, calling their union the first same-sex marriage registered in South Asia. But, considering Nepal legally recognizes Gurung as male, but she identifies as a trans woman, and Pandey is a cisgender man, is this really the win the world thinks it is?

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