A lesbian in Kathmandu, Nepal has been recognised as “third gender” on an official identity card.
The term “third gender” has been used in the country to refer to gay men, lesbians, and bisexual and transgender people.
On Wednesday, Bishnu Adhikari, 21, became the first person to receive such recognition in Nepal, where homosexuality and premarital sex are strongly taboo.
Krishna Adhikari, regional coordinator of gay rights organisation Naulo Bihani, said that Bishnu Adhikari’s request to be classified as “third gender” was rejected by officials.
The officials said that, as Miss Adhikari appeared male, she would be classified as male on her ID card. After Miss Adhikari refused to accept this, they eventually agreed to her request.
Miss Adhikari is a human rights officer at the Blue Diamond Society, a gay rights organisation.
She was inspired to apply for the third gender classification after a visit from out gay lawmaker and founder of the Blue Diamond Society, Sunil Babu Pant in Pokhara.
Mr Pant, 35, is a member of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. He has used this position to campaign for gay equality, by giving presentations to other assembly members on homosexuality.
The LGBT community in Nepal, called “sexual minorities” by the Nepalese government, were granted equality to heterosexual citizens in some areas of legislation in December 2007.
In what has been called a landmark piece of legislation, the Supreme Court passed a judgement that said that gays and lesbians were “natural” people, and placed the responsibility for removing homophobic discrimination with the government.
Since then, at least one transgender woman, Chanda Musalman, has been allowed to have “both” written in the “male/female” category on her ID card.