Cheered by scores of wedding guests, two gay men exchanged garlands of marigolds on Saturday in the first public same-sex marriage ceremony in tradition-bound Nepali society.
The guests, mostly activists from gay and lesbian rights groups and a few relatives, applauded as Anil Mahaju, 25, and Diya Kashyap, 21, exchanged vows in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital.
The marriage will not receive official approval, as Nepalese laws do not recognise same-sex unions, said Suni Pant, who heads the nonprofit Blue Diamond Society. There was no Hindu priest present to conduct the wedding.
“They have decided to get the marriage registered, but I think they will have to wait for a new constitution that would legitimise same-sex marriages,” Pant said.
Rights groups are hoping a new constitution, now being prepared by experts, will provide Nepal’s gay men and lesbians with civic rights.
Although there are no official figures, Pant said there are around 20,000 gay men and 1,000 lesbians in Nepal, a country with a population of around 25 million where gay sex is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison under public offense laws.