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Activists push for ’third sex’ ID cards for Nepalese transgender people

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV has called on Nepal’s Home Ministry to issue "third sex" citizenship cards to transgender people in accord with a 2007 Supreme Court decision.

"The legal verdict, which was the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Blue Diamond Society, obligated the government to issue citizenship cards to transgender people...recognizing their gender as a ’third sex," the forum, known as MSMGF, said Sept. 19. "Despite lobbying by activists to move the Home Ministry to deliver on this ruling, transgender and meti individuals in Nepal today still do not have citizenship cards reflecting legal recognition of their gender identity."

MSMGF and openly gay Nepalese MP Sunil Babu Pant say that without the cards, transgender people are denied access to education, jobs, health care, inheritances, passports, and foreign travel.

LGBT people staged a protest over the matter in Kathmandu on Sept. 14, resulting in some 60 arrests, apparently because the demonstration occurred too close to government buildings.

Activists later had a meeting with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Pant wrote on Facebook, "He said he would solve the Citizenship ID problem soon, but we need to keep the pressure."

"Governments that deny fundamental rights to their citizens -- in this instance, communities that are already marginalized -- actively exclude these individuals from civic participation as equal members of society," MSMGF said. "This sends a strong message to the people of Nepal and the broader global community that prejudice supersedes social justice and human dignity."

Founded at the 2006 International AIDS Conference, MSMGF is the only global HIV advocacy network specifically devoted to the needs of men who have sex with men. It is governed by a 20-member committee of internationally recognized advocates and HIV professionals representing each major region of the world.

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