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A government committee in Nepal has recommended same-sex marriage should be legalised – even though it has a ‘socially conservative’ Hindu population.
Despite the fact there is a tiny open LGBT+ community in the landlocked country, bordered by India and the Republic of China, all of Nepal’s political parties there have backed the move.
A bigger problem for the politicians’ attempt to extend the right to the LGBT+ community is that the country has a long – and still strong – tradition of arranged marriage.
Opponents to the new constitutional law are not necessarily homophobic, but object to the idea that same-sex marriage is acceptable.
‘Whatever happens inside closed doors should remain there,’ retired government worker Raja Sharma, 62 told the Associated Press.
‘This is ridiculous – marriage is a sacred thing between a husband and wife that has worked for centuries, and it should be left alone. Nepal has enough problems.’
But one Hindu priest Laxman Acharya said that because Nepal is a relatively young country, in terms of the average age of the population, he thought same-sex marriage would be accepted, despite protests from the country’s neighbouring states.
The average age in Nepal people is 21, and more than one third of the 27 million who live in the country is under the age of 14.
Lama Acharya told the news agency from his Himalayan temple: ‘It is not going to dent the culture or religion.
‘If two people are happy then no-one should say anything.’
Homosexuality in Nepal was de-criminalised in 2007 after lobbying from the small, but vociferous, LGBT+ community.
However, prejudice is still rife in the country, with many LGBT+ people wary of acknowledging their sexuality for fear of reprisals.