Nepal formally recognises “third gender”.
Laura // 22 September 2008
A 21-year-old lesbian has become the first person to be officially recognised as “third gender” since the country passed laws granting “sexual minorities” the same rights as heterosexuals in December of last year:
Adhikari, a human rights officer employed by the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), the pioneer organisation in Nepal to champion the cause of gays and lesbians, was inspired to ask for a third gender ID after Nepal’s first publicly gay lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant visited Pokhara about 10 days ago.
…the officials first rejected her demand saying she looked exactly like a man and therefore should be issued an ID that described her as male. However, after she consistently refused to accept it, saying that in view of the new changes that had electrified Nepal her request should also be heard, the officials went into a huddle among themselves and then finally relented.
The term “third gender” is used in Nepal to refer to those who are neither heterosexual nor transgendered, and while one could argue that this all-encompassing term is problematic insofar as it blurs the distinction between sexuality and gender, Adhikari’s success in being officially recognised as third gender is a sign of positive change in a country where traditional conservatism is being shaken up by political developments including the abolition of the monarchy and the increased dominance of the Maoist party, who claim to represent poor and minority groups.
And it certainly puts the UK to shame: see Helen’s recent post for details on how to help lobby for legal recognition of identities outside the gender binary over here.