In what will no doubt be hailed as a historic decision, Nepal has become the third Asian country to grant separate recognition to its community of sexual minorities based on their gender identities.
The Nepalese Home Ministry is now providing citizenship under the "others" category to members of the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, Republica is reporting.
A spokesperson at the Nepalese Home Ministry confirmed the decision, which reportedly follows similar legislation in India and Bangladesh, to the publication.
"Yes, the LGBTI community will from now onwards be categorized under 'others' as per their wish," Shankar Koirala is quoted as saying. "We have already sent a letter to the Law Ministry to add the 'others' head in all necessary forms, documents and indexes."
The Hindustan Times notes that the motion comes five years after the Nepalese Supreme Court asked the government to frame equal laws for LGBTIs, and also at a time when the country is preparing to introduce a new constitution.
Among those to praise the new legislation was Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay lawmaker.
"Our community feels we are finally being granted an identity by the state, and my friends have told me they feel proud about it," Pant, who is also the president of the LGBTI advocacy group Blue Diamond Society, is quoted by The Nation as saying. "Getting an identification will solve 50 per cent of our problems. It will also help find the correct figures onthe number of third gender in Nepal, so the government can address the problems facing this community."
Echoing those sentiments was 37-year-old transgender resident Badri Pun. "It's a big decision and we are very happy," he told the Times. "This will help us get work, recognition and also hopefully bring down cases of harassment."
In March, Pant reportedly petitioned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to create options for users who don't identify as male or female, arguing that "people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook's options," and that "many in the LGBTI community feel as if they are hidden on the site, unable to identify as their true selves."
Last year, Nepal's Central Bureau of Statistics gave official recognition to gay and transgender people -- a move seen as major victory for equality in a country that only recently decriminalized homosexual relationships, CNN reported.
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