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Passports set to mention third gender

  

LEKHANATH PANDEY

KATHMANDU: The government is all set to amend the existing laws to provide passports to sexual minorities mentioning their gender-identity.

It has so far been issuing passports mentioning either “male” or “female”, though citizenship certificates for the sexual minorities specify their gender as “others”.

“We have proposed an amendment to the Passport Regulations 2010 so that we can issue passports to sexual minorities specifying their gender identity,” said Ramesh Prasad Khanal, Director General at the Department of Passport. The proposal is now under consideration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which, after due consultations, will table it before the Cabinet for its approval.

Last year, the Supreme Court had directed the government to bring necessary changes in passport regulations so as to issue machine readable passports to sexual minorities mentioning their gender in accordance with their citizenship certificates.

The MoFA is consulting experts and stakeholders, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, to amend the regulations, said an official.

Earlier, the DoP met representatives of the Blue Diamond Society, an NGO lobbying for the rights of sexual minorities in Nepal, to work out how to address their concerns in the passport regulations.

Officials said at least six applicants of third-gender had approached DoP and district administration officers across the country seeking MRP mentioning their gender.

Once the proposed amendment is finalised, the government will have to incorporate it in passport application forms and notify ICAO and its member states about the new provision in passports regulations so that they could recognise Nepali passports.

International precedent

KATHMANDU: Only two countries — Australia and New Zealand — issue passports to sexual minorities mentioning their gender-identity with code “X” (meaning extra, other than male or female). DG Khanal said International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN specialised agency dedicated to the international aviation, accepts such passports issued by the two countries. The DoP has suggested the use of either “X” or “O” (others) to recognise the third gender in passports. — HNS

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