Nepal: Supreme Court Case on Relief for Sexual and Gender Minorities - Observers’ Report

On November 21, 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal heard a writ petition submitted by Blue Diamond Society (BDS) and three sexual minority groups, demanding protection of their legal rights. Their demands were threefold: to recognize the civil rights of transgender people without requiring them to renounce one gender identity for another; to create a new law preventing discrimination and violence against LGBT communities; and to require the state to make reparations to LGBT victims of state violence and/or discrimination. This petition was premised on the unique relationship between Nepal’s Supreme Court and its legislature. In response to a request by BDS for legal observers to be present at the hearing, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) commissioned a team of lawyers from India, Vivek Divan and Arvind Narrain, to serve as court observers and share legal strategy with BDS legal counsel. Their report outlines the history behind the pro-active litigation by LGBT groups in Nepal and provides a legal analysis of the November 21 proceedings, which includes some precedent-setting remarks by the Court. The Supreme Court is expected to make a final decision on December 21.