June 2023 Analysis: Gender, Social Inclusion and Human Rights


Posted by : Prashanti Poudyal

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Date : 2023-06-30





Being the month of Pride, Nepalis also went ahead to celebrate at the Pride Parade in Kathmandu. People gathered on the streets carrying rainbow flags and placards to pledge their support for the LGBTQ+ community. The Citizenship Bill, previously rejected, was authenticated by President Ram Chandra Paudel, but faced opposition and a subsequent order by the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the bill. The court also issued an interim order in favor of same-sex marriage registration. Lastly, the Gulmi Durbar Rural Municipality launched an awareness campaign to involve fathers and male family members in caring for pregnant women, aiming to challenge gender roles.

Timeline of Major Events

 
Date Events
June 4 A single bench of the Supreme Court had issued a short-term interim order to halt the implementation of the Citizenship Act.
June 5 The opposition parties, including CPN-UML, Rastriya Swatantra Party, and Rastriya Prajatantra Party, obstructed the proceedings at the House of Representatives, demonstrating discontent towards the authentication of the Citizenship Bill.
June 10 Nepal Celebrated the pride parade in streets of Kathmandu.
June 22 A joint bench of justices, Anand Mohan Bhattarai and Kumar Regmi provided the verdict of discontinuing the short-term interim order issued by Supreme Court on June 4, and ruled in favor of the authenticated bill.
 

Nepal Celebrated Pride Parade

 
Hundreds of Kathmanduities gathered at Pukhusi Kyaba (Shanti Batika) at Ratnapark on June 10, to celebrate the pride parade. Visitors with rainbow paints on their faces and/or carrying rainbow flags, placards and banners that read, ‘Love is love,’ among others, all came by to pledge their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride parade is celebrated worldwide with the aim to generate awareness as well as bring visibility to people of marginalized sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics.

The 'Nepal Pride Parade' began in 2019 and is organized by Queer Youth Group (QYG), Queer Rights Collective (QRC), and Campaign for Change. Every second Saturday of June, a large number of people from the LGBTQ+ community, including transgender individuals, and their allies gather in Kathmandu to march through the streets. They chant slogans and use queer terminology to express their identity. Despite navigating through traffic and a protective police presence, the procession moves through Jamal, Durbarmarg, and Nag Pokhari, culminating in a gathering at Narayan Chaur in Naxal.

During the assembly, queer individuals showcase their talents through performances such as dance, poetry recitations, and songs, which add to the energetic atmosphere. Despite the intense midday heat, the participants courageously dance and interact with each other, creating a vibrant atmosphere. An interpreter is present, using sign language to ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully understand and appreciate the emotions conveyed in the songs and poems.

Nepal has nonetheless been forward in terms of acceptance and inclusivity. For many years, the country has been celebrating the renowned Gaijatra festival, which is widely recognized as one of the most inclusive celebrations where individuals from queer groups also utilize the platform to express and celebrate their identities. More recently, Nepal has also taken steps in enacting laws to ensure equal marriage rights. However, it is essential to acknowledge that not all politicians view these advancements as positive steps.

Controversy Surrounding the Supreme Court’s Order on Same-Sex Marriage

RPP-N President, Kamal Thapa, made headlines by saying that same-sex marriage will create social distortions. He said this through social media. President Thapa said that the decision made by the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage registration is flawed. He says that marriage is a sacred relationship between a man and a woman and same-sex marriage is against social norms and customs.

Thapa's statement sparked a powerful response, prompting numerous individuals, including both celebrities and the general public, to rally in support of LGBTQ+ rights. On May 23, The Supreme Court has given an interim order to the government to register temporary marriages of same-sex couples. the single bench of Judge Til Prasad Shrestha has issued an interim order to make necessary arrangements to register the marriage so that the marriage remains a temporary record if the same-sex couples request an application.

On behalf of the Blue Diamond Society, 7 people, including President Pinki Gurung, filed a petition in the Supreme Court saying that the law of Nepal is an obstacle to registering same-sex marriages. They filed a petition against the office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, demanding the amendment of the provisions of the Civil Code 2074 regarding marriage registration. The Supreme Court has reminded that Article 69 (1) of the Civil Code 2074 gives every person the freedom to marry and Article 18 (1) of the Constitution of Nepal states that all citizens are equal under the law. The Supreme Court has also demanded a written response from the government regarding the legal arrangements regarding the marriage registration of the same-sex, third-sex community. About 15 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage would be allowed for people of legal age to live together. But same-sex marriage is not recognized in the Civil Code.
 

Citizenship Issue


On a controversial move, President Ram Chandra Paudel had authenticated the Citizenship Bill on May 31st, whilst it being rejected twice by his predecessor, Bidya Devi Bhandari. On June 4, a single bench of the Supreme Court had issued a short-term interim order to halt the implementation of the Citizenship Act.

The discontent with the Citizenship Bill had reached the House of Representatives on June 5, where the opposition parties, including CPN-UML, Rastriya Swatantra Party, and Rastriya Prajatantra Party, obstructed the proceedings. Lawmakers stood from their seats, protesting against the President's validation of the bill, accusing him of bypassing due process. Despite the House Speaker's requests, the opposition lawmakers continued their protests, chanting slogans.

On June 22, a joint bench of justices, Anand Mohan Bhattarai and Kumar Regmi provided the verdict of discontinuing the short-term interim order issued by Supreme Court on June 4, opening the way for the implementation of the newly authenticated Citizenship Bill to be implemented as law.

The court’s latest order has cleared the way for thousands of children of parents who got citizenship by birth to acquire citizenship by descent. The new amendment is expected to benefit around 400,000 people. According to the District Administration Office in Parsa, around 70 people who were earlier deprived of citizenship, acquired citizenship on a single day. In Morang, Niraj Kamat who had attempted to self-immolate at Maitighar during the first week of June protesting the Supreme Court’s earlier interlocutory interim order, also received the citizenship on June 26.
 

Male Participation on Safe Motherhood


In an effort to challenge the traditional gender roles and promote shared responsibility in child-rearing, the Gulmi Durbar Rural Municipality in Gulmi has taken action to involve fathers and other male family members in the care of pregnant women and their unborn children. A letter addressing this issue was sent to all prospective fathers within the local community. The intention being to raise awareness and encourage fathers to actively participate in supporting their pregnant wives by providing proper nutrition, accompanying them to prenatal check-ups, and ensuring the well-being of both mother and child after delivery.

To implement this campaign, a team comprising elected representatives, healthcare professionals, and female community health volunteers visited the homes of pregnant women to deliver the letter. Even if the father is not present, the letter is sent to his location. During their visit, the team offers congratulations to the expectant mother and provides information on the significance of regular health check-ups, including a minimum of eight mandatory visits to the health center since conception. They also advocate for institutional births and provide essential knowledge on self-care and newborn care.