A 40-year-old in Nepal has been granted citizenship as both a man and a woman. It is thought up to 400 other Nepalese are seeking the same dual recognition.

Chanda Rani received the official government document last week, where Rani’s gender is listed as both male and female, announced the Blue Diamond Society, a gay rights group in Nepal.

“This is a landmark victory in our struggle,” said Sunil Panta, president of the society.

“There are nearly 10,000 trans-genders, gays, lesbians and bisexual people across the country who have been struggling to acquire citizenship on the basis of their true gender identities.”

Sexual identity is complex in Nepal. There are Metis, men who see themselves as feminine, Mardanas, women who see themselves as masculine, as well as gay men and lesbians and Tesrolingis (transsexuals).

A 1963 law punishes ‘unnatural sex’ ie: anything that is not vaginal penetration, with one year in prison.

As reported on PinkNews.co.uk last month, gangs of Maoist militants have launched a campaign in Nepal against the country’s gay and lesbian population.

Blue Diamond Society, reported that this new oppression is sanctioned by Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala.

Gays and lesbians in the Himalayan kingdom previously suffered persistent persecution from security forces during the absolutist rule of King Gyanendra.

LGBT people joined the Maoists and others to protest in a democracy movement against the king last year, demanding a freely elected, secular government.

When King Gyanendra finally relinquished sovereign power to the civilian government, it was hoped that gay and lesbian Nepalese would be granted human rights and legal protection.

The Maoist insurgents, who fought a ten-year guerrilla war against monarchist forces at a cost of over 12,000 lives, finally signed a peace agreement with the new democratic government in November last year.

No longer regarded as terrorists, the Maoists have turned their attention to ridding the country of “social pollutants,” such as pornography, infidelity, drunkenness and homosexuality, which they claim are products of capitalism.