Intersex rights in Nepal

In 2015, Nepal introduced constitutional recognition for "gender and sexual minorities".[1] Despite this, the rights situation of intersex people in Nepal [2] is unclear. Local activists have identified human rights violations, including significant gaps in protection of rights to physical integrity and bodily autonomy, and protection from discrimination.[3] A first national meeting of intersex people look place in early 2016, with support from the UNDP.[4]

Intersex rights in Nepal
Protection of physical integrity and bodily autonomyNo
Protection from discriminationUnclear


Intersex people are termed as 'antarlingi' अन्तर्लिङ्गी in Nepali language.[2]


The Blue Diamond Society, established in 2001, in Nepal politically has pursued political and social rights. On December 21, 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that a new democratic government must create laws to protect LGBTI rights and change existing laws that were tantamount to discrimination.[5][6] In September 2015, several articles mentioning the rights of gender and sexual minorities in the country's new constitution were approved by Parliament after lengthy deliberation. Amongst these:

  • Article 12 states that people have the right to have citizenship identification that reflects their preferred gender.
  • Article 18 covers rights to equality and states that the State will not "discriminate [against] any citizens based on origin, religion, race, caste, tribe, gender, language or ideological conviction or any other status."
  • Article 18 also lists "minorities, marginalized, youth, children, senior citizens, gender and sexual minorities, handicapped persons" asdisadvantaged groups that are recognized by the constitution.

The constitution went into effect on 20 September 2015.[7] These changes mean that Nepal is likely the most progressive country in South Asia, for LGBT rights.[1] Nevertheless, numerous difficulties are reported by intersex people in Nepal, including the right to change gender assignment, the right to bodily autonomy, and the right to health.[3][8]

In February 2018, Asian intersex activists published the Statement of Intersex Asia and the Asian Intersex Forum, setting out local demands.[9]

Intersex issues in Nepal may often be thought to be third sex issues,[10] and the most well-known third-gender group in South Asia is perhaps the hijra. Serena Nanda writes that: "There is a widespread belief in India that hijras are born hermaphrodites [intersex] and are taken away by the hijra community at birth or in childhood, but I found no evidence to support this belief among the hijras I met, all of whom joined the community voluntarily, often in their teens."[11] This belief has an impact when infants are born. Warne and Raza argue that an association between intersex and hijra people is mostly unfounded but provokes parental fear about the possible future life of their child.[12]

Physical integrity and bodily autonomy

Intersex persons are not protected from violations to physical integrity and bodily autonomy. A 2016 book of personal stories by intersex people from Nepal identifies a range of bodily autonomy and health issues, including "Intersex genital mutilation as a growing practice and lack of information and access to reproductive health information or care" and "Lack of access to necessary health care for those experiencing health difficulties as a result of their intersex variation".[3]

In June 2016, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child questioned the Nepalese government,[10] and identified concerns about:

(a) The lack of awareness of issues related to intersex children in Nepal and the high levels of stigma and discrimination faced by intersex children; (b) The challenges faced by intersex children to access identity documents that correspond with the sex/gender identity of their choosing; and, (c) Cases of medically unnecessary surgeries and other procedures on intersex children before they are able to provide their informed consent, which often entail irreversible consequences and can cause severe physical and psychological suffering, and the lack of redress and compensation in such cases.[13]

The Committee called for investigations of human rights violations, education of medical professionals, and access to redress.[13]

Protection from discrimination

While the 2015 constitution provides protection for sexual and gender minorities, disabled people, and minorities more generally, Esan Regmi has identified a number of issues facing intersex people in Nepal, including discrimination, and a lack of intersex-specific research and actions within Nepal's LGBTI movement. Access to marriage and inheritance rights are also concerns.[3]

Identification documents

According to local intersex activists, intersex people are not able to change name or gender marker on Nepalese birth certificates, and also have difficulties in updating academic transcripts and citizenship certificates. Intersex people are often confused as 'third gender' which creates barrier in recognition. [3]

Rights advocacy

On February 8-9, 2016, and with the support of the UNDP and other organizations, the Blue Diamond Society hosted a first national meeting on intersex issues.[4][14] The meeting was led by Esan Regmi, with 13 participants from around Nepal.


The first and the only Intersex Rights organization of Nepal is Campaign for Change.

See also


  1. Lavers, Michael K. (September 19, 2015). "New Nepal constitution includes LGBT-specific protections". Washington Blade. Archived from the original on November 21, 2015.
  2. United Nations Development Programme (2014). "Being LGBT in Asia: Nepal Country Report". Bangkok: United Nations Development Programme. Archived from the original on 2017-08-24.
  3. Regmi, Esan (2016). Stories of Intersex People from Nepal (PDF). Kathmandu. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-04-22.
  4. Being LGBTI in Asia (February 29, 2016). "The dawn of a national intersex movement: The first national intersex workshop in Nepal". Medium. Archived from the original on August 22, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  5., "Nepal High Court Issues Landmark Gay Ruling," 21 December 2007 Archived 22 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Nepal court rules on gay rights Archived 2011-08-05 at the Wayback Machine BBC News, 21 December 2007
  7. "Nepal approves new constitution". BBC News. 17 September 2015. Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016 via
  8. Regmi, Esan (October 2016). "Growing up in Nepal". Intersex Day. Archived from the original on 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-05-21.
  9. Intersex Asia (February 2018). "Statement of Intersex Asia and Asian intersex forum". Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  10. "TRANSCRIPTION > Nepal Questioned over Intersex Genital Mutilations by UN Committee on the Rights of the Child - Gov Denies + Deflects". Zwischengeschlecht. May 20, 2016. Archived from the original on June 24, 2017.
  11. Nanda, Serena. Neither Man Nor Woman: The hijras of India, p. xx. Canada: Wadworth Publishing Company, 1999
  12. Warne, Garry L.; Raza, Jamal (September 2008). "Disorders of sex development (DSDs), their presentation and management in different cultures". Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. 9 (3): 227–236. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s11154-008-9084-2. ISSN 1389-9155. PMID 18633712.
  13. United Nations; Committee on the Rights of Child (June 3, 2016). "Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of Nepal". Geneva. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017.
  14. UNDP in Asia and the Pacific (July 30, 2016). "Being LGBTI in Asia". Archived from the original on August 15, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-30.


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