Intersex rights in Nepal
In 2015, Nepal introduced constitutional recognition for "gender and sexual minorities". Despite this, the rights situation of intersex people in Nepal 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. A first national meeting of intersex people look place in early 2016, with support from the UNDP.
|Intersex rights in Nepal|
|Protection of physical integrity and bodily autonomy||No|
|Protection from discrimination||Unclear|
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. 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. These changes mean that Nepal is likely the most progressive country in South Asia, for LGBT rights. 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.
Intersex issues in Nepal may often be thought to be third sex issues, 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." 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.
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".
(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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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